This analysis of the USDA nutrition budget comes from the Food Research and Action Center, a advocacy group for nutrition. 


  FRAC Analysis: Nutrition Programs and Refundable Tax Credits in President Obama's FY 2011 Budget


President Obama's FY 2011 budget proposal released today makes important new investments in federal programs that support food security and income security. In light of the ongoing recession and the growing need for nutrition program supports, it anticipates substantial continued caseload growth for SNAP/Food Stamps, school meals, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, but it also boosts program participation and benefits, in targeted ways, above those driven by the economy alone.  Most notably, the budget also provides $10 billion over the next ten years for Child Nutrition Reauthorization and acknowledges that reauthorization will play an important role in meeting the President's goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015.


    BREAKDOWN OF KEY PROVISIONS



    Child Nutrition Reauthorization


        * For Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization, the President's budget proposes $10 billion over ten years (subject to "paygo" rules) in additional funding. According to the budget, the additional investments will be "aimed at ending childhood hunger, reducing childhood obesity, and improving the diets of children, and raising program performance to better serve our children."

SNAP/Food Stamps

        * The Budget projects spending at nearly $57.2 billion for SNAP/Food Stamps, an increase of nearly $7.6 billion over FY 2010.  The requested level reflects American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provisions, which began boosting SNAP/Food Stamp benefits in 2009, as well as anticipated increases in program participation. 

        * USDA projects that SNAP/Food Stamps will serve an average monthly level of 43.3 million persons in FY 2011, up 2.7 million from FY 2010.  The request also provides reserve funds in case actual need exceeds that projected.

        * The President's Budget request also assumes some significant improvements in SNAP/Food Stamps' ability to serve low-income households, including jobless persons seeking work in a difficult labor market.  The budget assumes an extension of the economic recovery act's (ARRA) suspension of time limits on the receipt of SNAP/Food Stamps for certain jobless adults without dependents (an estimated 14,000 participants); exclusion of refundable tax credits from countable SNAP income and assets in the month of receipt and for the following 12 months  (an estimated 7,000 participants beginning in tax year 2009); and increasing the asset limit in federally-funded programs for certain populations to $10,000 (increasing the current SNAP/Food Stamp asset limits of $2,000 for most households and $3,000 for elderly and disabled person households -- estimated to affect 230,000 SNAP/Food Stamp participants).     

        * The budget request includes $31.9 million in additional funding for a variety of SNAP-related items, including: $4 million to equip more farmers' markets with capacity to process SNAP/Food Stamp benefits via Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) technology; $6 million to expand the $20 million Healthy Incentives Pilot (which was established under the 2008 Farm Bill and which will test the effectiveness of financial incentives used in conjunction with nutrition education to affect SNAP/Food Stamp households' diets); $12.5 million for encouraging healthy eating through community-wide approaches incorporating multiple means of communication and influence; and $9.4 million to maintain the benefit and retailer redemption and monitoring systems.

 Child Nutrition Programs


 Aside from the reauthorization investments:

        * The budget is funded at a level to support anticipated growth in participation and meals served in the child nutrition programs.  It anticipates that 32.6 million children will participate in the National School Lunch Program and 12.2 million children in the School Breakfast Program in FY 2011.

        * The budget includes $397 million for the Summer Food Service Program, an increase of $10 million.

        * The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is projected to serve 40.6 million more meals and snacks for a total of 1.98 billion in FY 2011.  The budget includes an $87.8 million increase, bringing the projected total FY 2011 CACFP expenditures to $2.7 billion.  

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)


        * The President proposes $7.6 billion in new budget authority for the WIC program -- an increase of approximately $350 million above the 2010 level (excluding the added funding in the economic recovery act, or ARRA).  The proposed funding, along with significant funding carried over from last year, is expected to serve more than one half million additional participants per month in FY 2011 compared to FY 2010, for a total 10.1 million women, infants, and children per average month.

        * An increase of $125 million is proposed for the contingency reserve, bringing the total available reserve to $250 million to provide resources to help bridge the gap should participation or food costs be higher than anticipated in FY 2011.

        * The President's request also includes $104 million to increase the monthly fruit and vegetable benefit allotments for children from $6 to the full $8 recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).  This $2 per month increase for children combined with the $2 per month increase for woman's benefits enacted in 2009 (for FY 2010) brings all the WIC food packages up to the level recommended by the IOM.

        * The budget includes $83 million for Breastfeeding Peer Counseling, $60 million for MIS/EBT systems, $10 million for infrastructure, $15 million for program evaluation, $5 million to streamline applications and improve cross program coordination, and $10 million for a Breastfeeding Performance Bonus program.

    Commodity Assistance Programs


        * The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is proposed at $176.8 million, an increase of $5.4 million over FY 2010, to serve a caseload of 604,900 peope.  This funds seven States (Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Utah) that were added to the program in FY 2010.  Participation is expected to increase by 19,100 persons per month in FY 2011.  

        * The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) was included in the President's budget at $246.5 million for the purchase of mandatory commodities and an additional $50 million for transportation and distribution costs.  The budget continues to allow states to transfer up to 10 percent of mandatory commodity purchases to supplement transportation and distribution costs.  The TEFAP infrastructure grants, recently funded in the FY 2010 Agriculture Appropriations, were not continued in the budget.

        * The Seniors Farmers' Market Nutrition Program proposed funding level, $21 million, is the same as the estimated expenditure for FY 2010.

        * The Farmers' Market Nutrition Program is funded at the same level as FY 2010: $20 million.

Other Nutrition Programs


 * As in FY 2010, the budget proposes $5 million for Hunger Free Community Grants. These grants focus on promotion, outreach, demonstration projects and technical assistance to support communities in exploring broad local strategies to prevent hunger, especially among young children.

        * The Congressional Hunger Center Fellowship program would be funded at 3 million (same as FY 2010).

        * $15 million is provided for Team Nutrition (the same level as last year).

        * The level of Nutrition Programs Administration (NPA) proposed funding for USDA is increased by $21.3 million for a total of $172.1 million to support continued program growth and nutrition policy development and promotion activities.  

        * Funding for the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion's nutrition policy development and promotion activities includes $1 million for the nutrition evidence library, $2 million for 2010 Dietary Guidelines promotion, $4 million for the MyPyramid Food Guidance System, and $2 million for making nutrition education more effective.

        * To increase the availability of affordable, healthy foods in underserved communities, the budget provides $50 million to USDA as part of $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative.  This new multi-year, multi-agency (HHS and Treasury) initiative will develop or equip grocery stores and other healthy food retailers in urban and rural food deserts.

        * $2 million is requested for a Farm to School Tactical Team, as well as $1 million for the School Community Garden Pilot Program.

        * The budget requests funding for the Economic Research Service (ERS) for data projects, including documenting access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods and improving the use of federal data sources to better understand how the nutrition programs and other assistance programs work together to provide a social safety net, as well as how they improve dietary and health outcomes.

        * The President included $210 million for the McGovern/Dole International Food for Education program (same as FY 2010).

    Tax Provisions

        * The budget would make permanent the recent improvements in the Earned Income Tax Credit for families with three or more children, increase credit amounts for moderate income families through the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and improve and expand the Saver's Credit by making it a refundable match while also increasing eligibility levels. The budget also proposes to temporarily extend both the Making Work Pay Tax Credit and COBRA Health Insurance Premium Assistance for laid-off workers.

        * The budget proposes eliminating the Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit option which allows low-income workers the ability to receive a portion of their expected EITC in each paycheck.

    For more information go to FRAC's website, www.frac.org.