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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Subcommittee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson: Nutrition Subcommittee Hearing: The Next Farm Bill: Nutrition Distribution Programs

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and welcome to today’s Nutrition Subcommittee hearing on food distribution programs. This hearing continues the Committee’s series where each subcommittee is undertaking a comprehensive review of the current farm bill as we move to draft the next. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to be here, particularly our witnesses for their participation and respective insights. 

USDA's food distribution programs—The Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations—strengthen the nutrition safety net through the distribution of USDA Foods and other nutrition assistance to children, low-income families, emergency feeding programs, Indian Tribal Organizations, and the elderly. These programs provide support to populations in need and help decrease food insecurity in our low-income communities. 

It is important to have a general understanding of these three programs, how they differ from one another, how they interact, and how they, along with our nation’s largest anti-hunger program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, work together to meet the nutrition needs of our most vulnerable citizens. The panel we will hear from this morning will offer insight based on their operational and policy experience. These on-the-ground perspectives will be critical as we look toward Farm Bill reauthorization with a focus on improving what works and reducing administrative burdens so that program benefits reach those most in need in the most effective and efficient manner possible. 

The food distribution programs are each designed to meet the needs of a particular population. TEFAP helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. CSFP is targeted at improving the nutrition of low-income elderly people at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with food packages. In both programs, USDA purchases the food and ships it to State agencies and provides support for administrative costs. TEFAP and CSFP State agencies work closely with local agency partners to distribute the USDA Foods in communities.

FDPIR provides USDA Foods to income-eligible households living on Indian reservations, and to American Indian households residing in approved areas near reservations or in Oklahoma. Many households participate in FDPIR as an alternative to SNAP because they do not have easy access to SNAP offices or authorized food stores. FDPIR is administered locally by either Indian Tribal Organizations or an agency of a State government. USDA purchases and ships FDPIR foods to the ITOs and State agencies based on their orders from a list of available foods and provides them with administrative funding. These agencies store and distribute the food, determine applicant eligibility, and provide nutrition education to recipients.

We will also hear from Diane Kriviski, Deputy Administrator for Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Programs, who will provide valuable insight into not only TEFAP, CSFP, and FDPIR, but ultimately what is being done to improve access to healthy foods.

I want to thank all of our witnesses for sharing their time and expertise. I now recognize Mr. McGovern for his opening statement.