The federal nutrition programs within the Farm Bill provide a critical safety net for the 1 in 10 Vermonters struggling to put food on their table. The reauthorization of these programs by Congress every five years provides an opportunity to improve the way they work in Vermont and ensure all who are in need have access to strong programs. Members of the Vermont Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition, including anti-hunger and food security advocates, agriculture organizations, and community service providers unanimously support these recommendations, and invite all Vermonters to join us by signing on in support (scroll to below the recommendations on this page).
Do not cut, block grant, or make structural changes to the funding of Farm Bill nutrition programs. Protect all federal nutrition programs which, together, form a vital safety net that supports the health and well-being of tens of thousands of Vermonters. Maintain or increase funding for all programs and protect them from changes to their funding structure, including shifting the fiscal responsibility of programs to state budgets. Do not take funding from one nutrition program to fund another.
Preserve SNAP access and program integrity. SNAP efficiently and effectively lifts millions of households out of poverty and helps people purchase nutritious food; it does not need significant changes. For example, do not place additional restrictions on purchases made with SNAP benefits. Protect SNAP from changes that limit access or increase administrative costs, such as changing issuance of benefits or imposing stricter work requirements on Vermonters struggling to find employment.
Decrease federal and state administrative burden and costs and improve program access by simplifying and streamlining procedures, and by aligning how income is evaluated across nutrition programs.
Help more older Vermonters access healthy food by allowing states to align the income eligibility for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) to that of The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Both programs are most often administered by the same organizations and aligning income eligibility will streamline program administration.
Continue funding for SNAP Employment & Training (E&T) pilot programs that are developing best practices in workforce development and finding great success, like Vermont’s Jobs for Independence program. These programs are testing new and innovative ways to connect Americans to employment through an enhanced support model and teaming approach. Ease regulatory restrictions on the use of SNAP E&T funds to allow Vermont’s Agency of Human Services and other state agencies to continue these E&T programs.
Support investments in technology that improve access to federal nutrition programs and protect program integrity. Implement a 90/10 federal and state match opportunity for improving IT systems that support SNAP to ensure accurate benefit determinations and to reduce barriers to program access.
Help Vermonters access commodity foods.
a. Authorize and appropriate full funding for the implementation and administration of The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) with $350 million per year for TEFAP food purchases and $100 million per year for TEFAP Administrative Funding for food storage and distribution.
b. Authorize the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides monthly nutritious food packages to 697,865 low-income older adults nationwide, and provide an increase beyond current funding levels. This program is critically underfunded, and new caseload is needed to meet the needs of older adults struggling with hunger. Additionally, help more older adults access this vital program by providing additional funding to serve a new state or territory with USDA-approved plans.
Improve access to fresh, local foods for all Vermonters while supporting local farmers and the agricultural economy:
a. Authorize permanent funding to support wireless equipment costs related to accepting SNAP benefits at farmers markets and other direct markets.
b. Eliminate the $50 cap on benefit amounts for a participant in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), which connects older Vermonters to their local farmers markets and farm shares. This no-cost change would allow for more strategic interventions to improve health outcomes.
Invest in children’s access to healthy meals at home and in school:
a. Provide USDA Foods funding for every school breakfast served. Schools currently receive this funding for every lunch served, but not for breakfast.
b. Provide EBT funds to low-income families living in rural or dangerous areas where congregate summer meal programs are not viable.
SIGN ON TO SUPPORT THESE RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Read this Farm Bill Primer to get more well versed in the Farm Bill specifics.