June 26, 2012 (Chicago) – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics praised the work of the United States Senate, in particular the Agriculture Committee, for passing the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act (S. 3240), also known as the 2012 Farm Bill, which will fund key nutrition programs that empower Americans to make healthy food choices.
“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) funded in the Farm Bill have been shown to improve healthy eating behaviors to help reduce chronic disease, which results in fewer health-care dollars being spent. This historic piece of legislation emphasizes the important connection between food and health,” said registered dietitian and Academy President Ethan Bergman.
“Our members will continue to advocate for SNAP and other initiatives like the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that help develop lifelong healthful eating habits, as well as to conduct the imperative food and nutrition research that provides the evidence needed to make sound policy decisions,” Bergman said.
The Academy recognized the efforts of Senators Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Pat Roberts (Kan.) for their bipartisan leadership in passing the bill 64-35.
The bill contains a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP that the Academy believes will negatively affect large numbers of struggling families. According to the Congressional Budget Office, an estimated 500,000 households a year will lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits, if the budget cut is made. USDA reports the average family covered under SNAP received $284 per month in 2011.
“We are disappointed to see the reduction in SNAP benefits to families who need it most,” Bergman said. “Having access to healthy affordable food is necessary for all Americans. Not only does SNAP help improve health, it improves local economies at a time when it is most needed. For every $5 in new SNAP benefits, $9.20 is generated in total economic activity, resulting in jobs for the communities.”
The Academy will continue working with leaders of the House of Representatives and other key partners in the public health, anti-hunger and agriculture communities to help ensure ultimate passage of an effective and fair Farm Bill.