Overview of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Rincker Law Food & Ag Law Leave a Comment

I’m currently conducting a blog series where each week I give an overview of the responsibilities of a government agency regulating our food and agriculture system.  I think it’s a helpful reminder for everyone on just how complex our regulatory system really is.  It’s a game of Who’s Who for government players in the U.S. food and agriculture economy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Food and Nutrition Service (“FNS”) reports to the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

FNS works to reduce food insecurity and hunger by providing children and low-income persons access to healthy, nutritious food.  Specifically, FNS administers 15 federal nutrition programs.  Organizationally, it is divided into the following units:

1.  Special Nutrition Programs (overseeing Child Nutrition Division, Food Distribution Division, and Supplemental Food Program Division);

2.  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (overseeing the Benefit Redemption Division, Program Accountability and Administration Division, and Program Development Division);

3.  Office of Management, Technology and Finance (and Chief Operating Officer) (overseeing Office of Civil Rights, Office of Management, Office of Information Technology, Office of Financial Management);

4.  Office of Policy Support (overseeing the Office of Research and Analysis and Office of Strategic Initiatives, Partnerships and Outreach); and,

5.  Office of Regional Operations and Support (managing seven regional offices, Office of State Systems and Office of Emergency Management).

New York is administered in the Northeast Regional Office located in Boston, Massachusetts.

Some of FNS’s most recognized programs and services include the following:

Women, Infant and Children Program (“WIC”)- provides state grants for supplemental foods, health care referrals and food nutrition education for lower-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and children up to the age of five who are at a nutritional risk.   Within this program includes the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (“FMNP”) and WIC Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (“SFMNP”).  New York is an authorized state under FMNP and SFMNP to authorize farmers to accept WIC Cash Value Vouchers at farmers’ markets.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”)—provides assistance to lower-income individuals.  FNS also works with state government agencies, nutritionists and neighborhood organizations to provide nutrition education.

School Meals – These programs include the National School Lunch Program (“NSLP”), which provides federal support for public and private schools pursuant to the National School Lunch Act (“NSLA”), the School Breakfast Program (“SBP”), Summer Food Service Program (“SFSP”), and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

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