Transition Plan for Secure Families

Nutrition and Breastfeeding

Today, when one in six households with children reports that children in their care are not getting enough to eat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must work to ensure that children who are at risk for food insecurity are identified and their families are connected with needed federal nutrition programs. A child who is hungry or malnourished is much more likely to face adverse health outcomes. At a time when one in three children struggles with overweight or obesity, it is also important to ensure that the food children have access to is nutritious and backed by evidence-based Dietary Guidelines.

Support and strengthen the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. USDA should work to enhance the WIC participant experience, address declining enrollment rates among eligible families, improve communication and collaboration between WIC and pediatric medical providers, and improve breastfeeding rates among WIC moms.  USDA should finalize new WIC food packages based on the recommendations from the 2017 National Academies of Sciences report and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Ensure that children have access to healthy school meals.  Over the past several years, USDA has issued regulations that weaken the nutrition standards for meals served in school. USDA should rescind the 2020 proposed rule Simplifying Meal Service and Monitoring Requirements in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and instead work to ensure that all children have access to healthy meals during the school day, to provide adequate resources for the school meals programs, and to continue to make available technical assistance and training opportunities to schools.

Boost Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and preserve SNAP eligibility. The administration should seek to boost SNAP benefits. USDA should work with states and others to streamline enrollment between SNAP and other nutrition and health care programs serving low-income families to reduce the burden on families and administering agencies. We urge USDA to rescind the categorical eligibility proposed rule for SNAP which will cause children and their families to lose access to vital nutrition support, including school meals and stop defending the final rule altering SNAP requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in court.

Release evidence-based Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and align federal policies and programs with that guidance. The AAP strongly supports the first-ever inclusion of guidance for children birth to 24 months in the 2020 DGA as nutrition in the first two years of life sets the stage for lifelong health. USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) should address the many environmental and structural factors that influence Americans’ ability to follow the DGA, including making healthy foods accessible and affordable.

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American Academy of Pediatrics