According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General’s latest Audit Report 27001-0001-10, “Overlap and Duplication in Food and Nutrition Service’s Nutrition Programs” (henceforth, Report), the number of Americans receiving subsidized food assistance from the federal government is now a staggering 101 million — a number that is one-third of the entire U.S. population, outnumbering the number of Americans who work full-time in the private, i.e., non-government, sector of the economy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs a Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the mission of which “is to provide children and needy families with better access to food and a more healthful diet through its food assistance programs and comprehensive educational efforts”. FNS consists of 15 individual programs with a combined fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget of $114 billion, some of which may duplicate or overlap with other programs (Report, pp. 8 & 2). Translated into simple English, that means WASTE.
Those 15 “food nutrition” programs include:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the agency’s cornerstone program formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, comprises the largest portion of FNS’ overall budget at $88.6 billion in FY 2012.
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which had a budget of $6.6 billion in FY 2012.
- Child nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Summer Food Service, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which together totaled over $18 billion in FY 2012. (Report, p. 8)
FNS estimates that a total of 101 million people currently participate in at least one of its programs, including over 47 million in SNAP or food stamps, a historically high figure that has risen with the economic downturn andexpanded eligibility and funding of food assistance programs. (Report, p. 11)
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Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.