Sending Office: Honorable Elizabeth H. Esty
Sent By:
Pilar.McLaughlin@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Dear Colleague:

 

Please join us in sending a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director, Mick Mulvaney, expressing concern regarding the recommendation to move the non-commodity nutrition programs such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

Moving the non-commodity nutrition programs from USDA to HHS is imprudent for a number of reasons.  The proposed reorganization:

  • Fails to contemplate the needs and challenges of program participants as well as the goals of individual programs;
  • Is a direct attack on low-income individuals and families as it stigmatizes participants’ use of safety net programs;
  • Is an inefficient way to administer the programs which are best left under USDA – the agency with the most experience and knowledge working with participants and farmers; and,
  • Will hurt America’s farmers, resulting in a weakened U.S. agriculture sector.

To cosign the letter or for more information, please contact Pilar McLaughlin with Rep. Esty at
pilar.mclaughlin@mail.house.gov
The deadline to sign on is July 24th at 10:00 am. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Elizabeth H. Esty                      Rosa DeLauro

Member of Congress              Member of Congress

 

Text of letter:

 

Dear Director Mulvaney:

We write to express our concerns regarding the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) proposal to transfer the non-commodity nutrition programs including the; Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child and
Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).   We believe that the consolidation of these nutrition programs under the
Department of Health and Public Welfare (DHPW), HHS, is misguided.  This proposal is an attack on low-income individuals and families, fails to contemplate the needs of program participants, is an inefficient way to administer the programs, and will ultimately
hurt America’s farmers and the U.S. agricultural economy.  We strongly oppose the reorganization of these programs and urge OMB to reconsider the proposal.

The recommendation to consolidate certain nutrition assistance programs under HHS is unmistakably an assault on low-income individuals, working families, and women and children.  OMB’s plan to develop a Council on Public Assistance within the DHPW to develop
uniform work requirements on all public assistance programs, including nutrition programs, is unjustified and unwise.  Across the board implementation of work requirements without consideration for the unique needs of varying program participants such as breastfeeding
mothers and new mothers with infants, demonstrates a total lack of consideration and understanding by this Administration about the needs and challenges of program participants. 

Some nutrition programs, such as WIC, do not and should not have work requirements as the purpose of this program is to ensure the health of nutritionally at-risk pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children through nutrition counseling, referrals
to health care, and access to nutritious foods.  Restricting access to nutritious foods or health care services for expectant mothers is damaging not only to the health and wellbeing of the mother, but also her unborn child.

Likewise, inadequate nutrition for infants and young children has negative effects that may be irreversible.  A deficient diet can adversely impact a young child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive growth.  Lack of proper nutrition can put children at greater
risk for obesity and chronic health conditions as adults, impact their ability to learn and therefore endanger their future academic performance, and stunt their emotional and social development.  These are just some of the long-lasting and proven consequences
of undernutrition in children. 

Additionally, by naming this HHS division the “Department of Health and Public Welfare,” the Administration is stigmatizing participants’ use of these critical safety net programs.  These programs are
not welfare programs and OMB’s attempt to label them as such is demeaning and undermines the original intent and the spirit of the programs – an economic stabilizer for
all Americans. 

Federal food assistance policy dates back to the Great Depression – a time when much of the population was suffering through one of our country’s greatest financial crises.  One of the first federal food assistance programs was aimed at helping farmers by
bolstering farm incomes to make up for depressed crop prices due to oversupply.  The federal government purchased farm surplus production via the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation (FSCC) and distributed the food to low-income families.  This program
laid the groundwork for many of the contemporary food assistance programs, including SNAP.  To this day, SNAP provides nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families while significantly benefitting and strengthening the U.S. agricultural economy.

The non-commodity nutrition assistance programs serve not only the program participants, but also, our farmers.  Nutrition programs and the farmers who grow the food that is ultimately purchased by program participants, are intrinsically intertwined and
the management of these programs is most efficiently administered under the agency with the most knowledge and experience working with farmers – USDA.  Moving these programs to HHS will make coordination between farming and nutrition programs challenging,
put nutrition programs at risk for cuts, and ultimately hurt participants and farmers resulting in a weakened agricultural economy and lack of access to nutritious foods. This does not have to be the outcome.

We firmly believe that the proposal to move the non-commodity nutrition programs to HHS stigmatizes program participants, fails to contemplate the needs and challenges of program participants, and ultimately, will lead to program ineffectiveness and increased
administrative costs.  The non-commodity food programs are best suited for administration by USDA where they currently reside.  We strongly urge OMB to reconsider its proposed reorganization.  

 

Sincerely,

 

_____________________________                                      ____________________________

Elizabeth H. Esty                                                                    Rosa DeLauro

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

 

 

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