Government Programs to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition

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According to the United States Census Bureau, 5 million adults and 2.7 million children lived in hungry households in 1999. To combat hunger and the undernutrition problem, the United States government funds and administers several food programs, including the Food Stamp Program; the National School Lunch Program; the School Breakfast Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; the Child and Adult Care Food Program; the Emergency Food Assistance Program; and the Community Food and Nutrition Program.

The Food Stamp Program provides coupons for low-income families that enable them to buy food. The coupons are dispersed on a monthly basis, with the purpose of reducing hunger and malnutrition.

Through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), schools can be reimbursed for providing nutritious meals to children. A nutritious school lunch provides children with one-third or more of their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for nutrients.

Similar to the NSLP, the School Breakfast Program offers reimbursements to schools for providing breakfast to students. This breakfast provides one-fourth or more of their RDA for nutrients. In addition, meals and snacks are provided for children at risk for hunger through the Summer Food Service Program for Children. The food is usually provided during educational and recreational activities, and one-third of the children's RDA is provided through this program.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has a mission to improve the diets of women, infants, and children by providing monthly food packages that include certain foods.

Federal funds are provided to public and nonprofit child-care centers, family and group child-care homes, and after-school programs for meals and snacks to the populations they serve through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The programs are required to follow the nutrition standards set by USDA when providing meals.

Through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), food is distributed through emergency food shelters. The food is provided through surplus commodities purchased by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Low-income families are served as well.

Finally, the Community Food and Nutrition Program (CFNP) is the source of federal funding for programs providing hunger relief and improving nutrition for low-income individuals. The funding is provided on the local, state, and national levels.

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