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New BPC SNAP Task Force to Address Ways to Strengthen Nutrition in SNAP

Headshot of Joann Donnellan
Joann Donnellan

Washington, D.C.– As negotiations begin on the 2018 Farm Bill, the Bipartisan Policy Center today launched the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Task Force. The aim of the group is to explore policy recommendations on the federal and state level for using SNAP, SNAP-Education, and related federal programs to improve health, combat poor nutrition, and reduce health care costs.

The 13-member task force is led by three co-chairs: Bill Frist, M.D., former U.S. Senate majority leader and BPC senior fellow; Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture and BPC senior fellow; and Ann Veneman, former secretary of agriculture.

As SNAP has come under increased scrutiny for mismanagement by states, the task force will review incentive and disincentive programs, SNAP-Education policies and priorities, SNAP choice, state healthy SNAP pilots, the nexus between SNAP and health outcomes in Medicaid, and ways to improve coordination of programs at the state level to improve health.

“The old adage ‘we are what we eat’ is truer than many realize,” said Frist. “Promoting better health through good nutrition is a key motivator behind the formation of the SNAP Task Force. We cannot move the needle on our nation’s obesity epidemic—which leads to and exacerbates so many chronic medical conditions—if we don’t consider all possible policy levers to promote better diets and access to healthy foods.”

“The purpose of the SNAP program is to reduce food insecurity and poverty of lower-income individuals and families,” said Veneman. “However, there must be increased focus on nutrition and improving food choices as USDA has done with programs like WIC and school meals.”

“Our goal is to find bipartisan ways to strengthen and protect this essential anti-poverty program that serves over 40 million Americans,” said Glickman. “We know there are ways to improve and modernize administration, nutritional support, integrity, and effectiveness to bolster the extraordinarily positive impact the program is having across the country.”

Task Force members include a robust roster of health, public health, and social service policy experts and administrators:

  • Mariana Chilton, Professor, Drexel University and former National Commission on Hunger co-chair;
  • Dan Crippen, former NGA executive director and former CBO director;
  • Karen DeSalvo, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health;
  • Dave Krepcho, President & CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida;
  • Kara Odom Walker, Secretary, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services;
  • Angela Rachidi, Research Fellow, AEI;
  • John Wernert, former Secretary, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration;
  • Richard Whitley, Director, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Laurie Whitsel, Director of Policy Research, American Heart Association; and
  • Norbert Wilson, Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

BPC’s prior work in its Lots to Lose report espoused support for nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP and highlighted the need for continued efforts to align them with the USDA Dietary Guidelines and further explore the impact that these programs have on dietary choices and health of recipients.

The task force expects to release its recommendations by the end of this year.

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