WASHINGTON, June 15, 2016 – Today Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide extra nutrition support to Flint, Michigan to help low-income residents affected by lead contamination in the city’s water. In response to a request from the state, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will provide additional food to recipients of The Emergency Food Assistance Program in the Flint area to help address the ongoing crisis.
“USDA is committed to using all possible avenues to provide relief to those affected by lead contamination in Flint,” Concannon said. “The high rate of poverty seen across Genesee County raises the stakes for FNS’s nutrition assistance programs to ensure that Flint-area citizens have consistent access to healthy food that can help fight the ill-effects of the lead crisis.”
Working with local food banks and feeding organizations, USDA will provide an additional 14-pound nutrient-targeted food package, containing foods rich in calcium, iron, and Vitamin C – which are believed to help limit the absorption of lead in the body – to more than 17,000 low-income, Flint-area households. These boxes will be available each month for four months beginning in September. This food is in addition to the regular allotment that TEFAP recipients currently receive.
Providing food packages is the latest in a series of recent USDA actions to help residents of the stricken city, such as:
- Temporarily authorizing blood lead screening tests at clinics for participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- Expanding the Summer Electronic Benefits for Children pilot project to all children in Genesee County; these students are eligible to receive a $30 benefit package each month during the summer for nutritious foods that may help mitigate lead absorption.
- The support and financing of an additional clinic for WIC in the downtown area of Flint.
- Encouraging all eligible Flint-area schools to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, a program that ensures universal access to healthy, school meals in low income areas.
- Providing an additional $62,700 to help area schools purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Encouraging the use of WIC benefits to purchase ready-to-feed infant formula, which does not need to be mixed with water.
- Offering extensive nutrition education through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and other nutrition assistance programs on how to use nutrition to minimize the impact of lead in the bloodstream.
For more information about USDA's support for those affected by the Flint lead crisis, please visit our Flint Fact Sheet.
TEFAP is a Federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost. Through TEFAP, USDA purchases a variety of nutritious 100% domestic USDA Foods and makes those foods available to State Distributing Agencies to provide to local agencies, usually food banks, which in turn distribute the food to eligible participants and local organizations, such as soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public. Under TEFAP, states also receive administrative funds to support the storage and distribution of USDA Foods.
This announcement is part of USDA's continued commitment to ensuring children and families have access to healthy foods. Over the last seven years, USDA has made historic improvements in many of its nutrition assistance programs. Some examples include updated nutrition standards for school nutrition; the updated WIC package to include whole grains, low-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables; expanding the scope of the SNAP nutrition education program; and supporting an unprecedented growth in the number of farmers markets that accept SNAP and WIC benefits. More information about USDA's efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation can be found on USDA's Medium chapter, Growing a Healthier Future.
FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that, together, comprise America's nutrition safety net. They include WIC, SNAP, summer meals programs, and more.