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Child Nutrition Programs Evaluated by Senate Committee

On May 7, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee held a hearing, “A Review on Child Nutrition Programs.” The hearing focused on nutrition programs that serve children of low-income families, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“When possible, children are approved for free meals based on information from another program, a process known as ‘direct certification.’ Children receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) or cash assistance benefits, for example, can be directly certified based on a data-matching process between a student database and the state’s human services database,” stated Zoë Neuberger, senior policy analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. She continued, “With GAO’s [Government Accountability Office] May 2014 report and this week’s OIG [Office of Inspector General] report, these studies did not involve nationally representative samples, but their findings can inform policy development…As a result of these findings, Congress wisely focused on reducing opportunities for error and strengthening the verification process, rather than expanding verification or income documentation. In the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-265), the focus of verification sampling was shifted to error-prone applications (those close to the income limits for free or reduced-price meals).”

In speaking about the importance of WIC, Sandra G. Hassink, president, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), stated, “WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care and social services for millions of low-income women, their infants, and young children who are determined to be nutritionally at-risk…WIC has played an important role in promoting breastfeeding and improving breastfeeding initiation.” She added, “In order to support WIC participants to move closer to meeting AAP recommendations and national targets for breastfeeding, we recommend that the committee seek to find ways to promote breastfeeding in the WIC program, including through an increase in the authorization for the breastfeeding peer counseling program within WIC to $180 million.”

The following witnesses testified during the hearing:

  • Stephen M. Lord, managing director, Forensic Audits and Investigative Service, Government Accountability Office;
  • Brian Riendeau, executive director, Dare to Care Food Bank;
  • Richard Goff, executive director, Office of Child Nutrition, West Virginia Department of Education; and
  • Cindy Jones, business management coordinator, Food Production Facility, Olathe Unified School District 233.

 

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