1969 Conference on
Food, Nutrition, and Health
Part 2: The White House Conference Recommendations
The Nutrition Subcommittee review of Federal actions
taken to implement the Conference recommendations consists of a
comprehensive report, condensed and summarized below. Highlights
of Federal action and progress are grouped under four headings:
- Expansion of the Food Stamp Program
- Improved Child Nutrition Programs
- Improvements in other nutritional programs
- Consumer protection and information activities
A. Expansion of the Food Stamp Program
The Administration, through administrative action
and proposed legislative amendments, has dramatically expanded and
liberalized the Food Stamp Program. This is part of the effort to
meet the President's call of May 6, 1969, to "put an end to hunger
- Participation in the Food Stamp Program has jumped
from 3.6 million to 9.3 million persons in the ten months from
December 1969 to November 1970.
- Program costs have risen from $248 million in 1969
to $576 in 1970 and are budgeted to rise to $1,250 in 1971. This
is a more than five-fold increase in three years.
- Nearly all of the three thousand counties in the
Nation are now served by Food Stamp or Commodity Distribution Programs.
Over 12 million low-income persons are participating in these programs.
- Benefits have been liberalized. For example, the
monthly Food Stamp bonus for a family of four with a $2,000 annual
income was more than doubled by raising their stamp allotment to
$106 and reducing their purchase requirement.
The Administration's commitment to improving the Food
Stamp Program is clear. In mid-1969, the Administration proposed
legislative reforms in the program and requested increased funding.
In December 1969, the Secretary of Agriculture revised and liberalized
the Food Stamp purchase schedules through administrative action.
At the same time, the Departments of Agriculture and Health, Education,
and Welfare have been developing simpler standards and more efficient
procedures for certifying Food Stamp benefits for needy families.
The Administration plans to transfer the Food Stamp
Program to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and
to administer the program in close harmony with the proposed Family
Assistance Plan. Under this approach, Family Assistance recipients
could authorize the government automatically to withhold their Food
Stamp payment from their cash benefit. The recipients would then
receive their food stamps at the same time as their cash benefits.
Ultimately, the Administration seeks to convert the Food Stamp Program
into an all-cash program tied closely to other income maintenance
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B. Improved Child Nutrition Programs
The Administration has endorsed legislative and administrative
actions to meet the President's commitment to provide free or reduced-price
lunches for every needy child in America.
- On May 14, 1970, the President approved Public Law 91-248, a law which
amends the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act. The legislation embodies
many of the recommendations of the White House Conference, and provides authority to:
- Encourage States to extend the lunch program to every school
within their borders.
- Establish national standards of minimum
income eligibility for the free and reduced-price lunches. (This
level was set at $3,720 per year for a family of four by the
Department of Agriculture.)
- Transfer funds among various child nutrition programs in
order to tailor benefits according to State and local requirements
to reach needy children.
- Improve nutrition education programs in schools and school
- Total funds requested for Child Nutrition Programs
were increased in July 1970 to more than one billion dollars for
fiscal year 1971. This is a sharp increase from the $657 million
spent in the previous year. Of the total amount budgeted for the
Child Nutrition Programs in 1971, $356 millionor one-thirdis
slated for special assistance for needy children. This is an eight-fold
increase over the amount spent for this purpose in fiscal year
- From October 1968 to October 1970, the number of children receiving
free or reduced-price meals more than doubled. This number will
continue to grow through the school year.
- Free or reduced-price lunches should now be available
to all eligible children in schools which participate in
the School Lunch Program.
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C. Improvements in Other Nutrition Programs
A wide range of Federally-assisted nutrition programs
have achieved significant impact in the last year. These efforts
- The Office of Economic Opportunity's emergency
food and medical service program. Working through local groups,
this program has been instrumental in the development of new ways
to improve the basic food assistance programs.
- The Department of Agriculture's nutrition education
programs, which have been expanded in cooperation with the Land
Grant Universities. Nutrition education has been enhanced through
the use of 7,000 non-professional nutrition aides who perform
- The Office of Education's programs to develop curriculum
guides and nutritional information for schools. Eight pilot projects
are being launched to show how schools can use innovative techniques
to meet the health and nutrition needs of disadvantaged children.
- The Nutrition Program of the Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare, sponsored by the Center for Disease Control.
The Center is funding twenty nutrition demonstration programs.
- The National Nutritional Surveillance System. This
System will monitor the nutritional status of the entire population,
with special emphasis on low-income groups. Planning for the System
is now complete and implementation is underway.
The authorization of the Department of Defense to
use food stamps in the military commissary system. This will enhance
the food purchasing power of low-income military personnel and
their dependents. The 1971 budget included a 20 percent pay increase
for enlisted personnel in the lower ranks, a measure which will
do much to eliminate the problem of inadequate diets. The Department
of Defense is also taking additional steps to upgrade the food
service provided to military personnel.
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D. Consumer Protection and Information Activities
All Americans benefit from consumer protection and
nutrition education programs. These programs guard citizens against
hazardous or misleading products, and enable them to obtain better
nutrition for each dollar they spend on food. Improvements in consumer
protection and nutrition information activities have advanced along
several fronts during the past year. These include:
- The Food and Drug Administration. In September,
1970, the FDA contracted with the National Academy of Sciences
to produce nutritional guidelines (both maximum and minimum nutritional
content) for certain classes of food. These guidelines will be
useful to the consumer and to the food industry. Representatives
of the food industry have already expressed interest in using
them. The Food and Drug Administration has also begun a program
to assure that meaningful consumer choice can be made on the basis
of food labels, and that these labels include information on nutritional
The Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has recently
created a division on food enforcement. It has also been reorganized
so that all of its efforts are better focused to protect the consumer.
Particular attention is being given to advertising aimed at children.
The Department of Agriculture. USDA is intensively
studying dietary patterns, primarily in poverty areas. The knowledge
these studies yield will be used to help develop better government
food programs, and also to improve public food buying and eating
habits. As part of these efforts, the Department is also studying
the nutrient content of foods, the blending of food components,
and the fortification of foods. The Department is working with the
food industry and the mass media to assure better communication
with groups having special nutritional needs, such as the poor and
(A more detailed summary of major Federal accomplishments,
organized by agency, is available in Part
3 of the Executive Summary.)
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State and Local Governments and the Private Sector
Action by the Federal Government to improve the nutrition
and health of our citizens is important. But action in the private
sector and by the State and local governments is essential. Only
with the help, encouragement and leadership of these institutions
can significant and lasting improvements be made in the nutrition
of the American people.
It is most encouraging that the private sector and
the State and local governments are already deeply committed to
solving the problem of malnutrition. Their actions in the last year
Nutrition and hunger conferences, which have been
held in nearly all of the fifty States, to focus attention on
the problems of hunger and malnutrition. Over one-third were
called by the State governors. Other conferences have been sponsored
by State agencies, City governments, universities, [and] private
and professional organizations. These conferences have gone
beyond mere study of the questions. They have struggled with
the real nutritional problems facing their communities and have
tried to help solve them.
Public Alert for Better Nutrition. The food industry,
working through the Food Council of America, has developed a publicity
campaign to encourage better nutrition habits among American families.
The Advertising Council, working closely with private
industry and several government agencies, is developing a public
service campaign to stimulate public interest in better nutrition.
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True to a strong American tradition, volunteer organizations
and individual volunteers in all parts of the Nation are working
to help the needy get food and nutrition information. These vital
efforts complement the activities of the Federal, State and local
governments, and those of the private sector. They include:
Local business organizations in Philadelphia which
are helping to finance seven school breakfast programs.
A multi-faceted program in San Diego which joins the
efforts of the Salvation Army, local religious organizations and
community groups, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the City
Welfare Department. These agencies have jointly established and
staffed neighborhood food distribution centers.
Students in Oklahoma who have helped teach families
how to use donated foods wisely.
Seven organizations and eleven individual volunteers
in Athens, Georgia, who have helped over 200 needy families obtain
The Wichita, Kansas, Red Cross which has been delivering
school lunches to three inner-city schools.
The Senior Citizens Club of Modesto, California, which
provides food stamp information at food stores and community centers.
These significant efforts are a tribute to those responsible,
and a measure of the growing national commitment "to put an end
to hunger in America."
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