1969 Conference on
Food, Nutrition, and Health
Part 3: Major Achievements by Federal Departments
Many Federal agencies have made important contributions
toward the goal of better nutrition. The accomplishments of agencies
most affected by Conference recommendations are included in this
A. Department of Agriculture
1. Accepted two-thirds of recommendations
More than two-thirds of the White House Conference
recommendations [that] referred to the Department of Agriculture
were accepted and will have an impact on program direction.
2. Expanded Food Stamps
The largest body of recommendations affecting the
Department of Agriculture relates to the food assistance programs
operated by the Food and Nutrition Service. Prominent among these
recommendations were proposals to liberalize the food stamp coupon
issuance schedule. On December 18, 1969, the Department announced
a new schedule providing increased bonuses and reduced purchase
requirements for most families. The new schedule makes it possible
for all participating families to purchase an adequate diet at a
cost of no more than 33 percent of income. The following table demonstrates
the effect of these interventions:
TABLE 1. Comparison
of Food Bonus (for a family of four)
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These liberalizations produced a significant increase
in program participation and costs, as outlined in the table below:
2. Food Stamp Expansion
| Fiscal Year
(end of year)
3. Improved Administration of Food Stamps
The Conference also urged close coordination of the
food programs with the proposed Family Assistance Plan. The Department,
in cooperation with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare,
is developing plans for the interfacing of these two programs. In
June, the President announced his intention to transfer the Food
Stamp Program to HEW in conjunction with implementation of the Family
Assistance Plan. In the Administrations June and October revisions
of the Family Assistance Plan, it was also contemplated that a family
could simply check a box on their FAP application and receive their
food stamp benefits automatically.
In addition, to these steps, the Conference supported
legislative efforts for the improvement of food stamp programs,
- simultaneous operation of food stamps and commodity
distribution in program areas;
- permitting the aging to use stamps to purchase
food either for home preparation or for prepared meals delivered
to homes by non-profit agencies; and
- providing variable purchase plans for recipients,
to give them more flexibility in coordinating their stamp purchase
with availability of income.
The Administration has accepted their proposals in
substance and has supported them in the Congress review of
the food stamp amendments.
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4. Special nutrition programs for vulnerable
The Department is now experimenting with food certificate
programs directed toward specific target groups, such as
pregnant women and infants, to determine the effectiveness of such
programs in improving their diets and health. The Department is
also giving increased attention to improving the nutritional
adequacy of the commodities being used in the commodity distribution
program through such efforts as:
- providing iron fortification of farina and corn
- recognizing regional preferences for varieties
- increasing the usage of instant dry milk to improve
the acceptability of the milk distributed, and
- improving methods of distributing and delivering
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5. School lunches provided free or at reduced
prices to low-income children
In line with Conference recommendations, Public
Law 91-248 was enacted in May of 1970, applying a national minimum
income standard of eligibility for free and reduced-price lunches.
This act provides authority to:
- increase the amount of Federal financial assistance
available for free and reduced-price lunches,
- introduce education and training demonstration
projects in schools, and
- finance evaluation studies.
6. Expansion of Nutrition Aides Program
The nutrition education program, using non-professional
aides drawn from the local communities served, is recruiting additional
aides and is increasing the number of families served. This program
is being continually evaluated to assure that: (a) the families served
are those in greatest need of assistance; (b) the program provides
equal opportunity to all races; and (c) the program is effective in
operation. Monitoring to date indicates significant improvement in
the diets of families reached.
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7. Better information and improved program evaluation
Accompanying these actions to improve and expand
programs, evaluative efforts were undertaken to ascertain the
effectiveness of alternative feed programs. The pilot program for
assistance to pregnant women and infants included comprehensive evaluation
as a part of the program from its inception. A special study of child
nutrition programs was undertaken to examine alternative delivery
systems. Program evaluation criteria in the Food Stamp Program are
being changed to reflect a shift of emphasis from the impacts of food
stamps on food expenditures to the nutritional adequacy of the diet
provided with the stamps. Studies are also being initiated to improve
the effectiveness of the Commodity Distribution Program until it is
8. Consumer Protection and Education
The Department of Agriculture is conducting extensive
applied research on food habits and choices. Particular emphasis
is being placed on the dietary patterns and problems in low-income
areas to serve as a basis for developing the most effective techniques
for improving diets through nutrition education and food programs.
Other research is being directed at the nutritional
content of foods, including advantages gained through blending food
components and through fortification with specific nutrients.
The Department is continuing to emphasize its cooperative
information programs of working with industry and the media to create
greater awareness of the importance of good nutrition. In line with
Conference recommendations, special efforts are being made to:
- reach particularly vulnerable groups in the populationincluding
low-income, ethnic, or age groups, and groups with language barriers;
- encourage participation in food programs;
- promote voluntary activity;
- emphasize food safety and the avoidance of food
- increase consumer understanding of USDA standards,
grades and labels.
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B. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
1. Most Recommendations Accepted
Approximately 70 percent of the recommendations of
the White House Conference [that] referred to the Department of
Health, Education, and Welfare were accepted.
2. The Family Assistance Plan and better nutrition
for the poor
Perhaps the greatest contribution that HEW could make
toward upgrading the nutritional status of people at "high
risk" is through the Administrations Family Assistance
Plan. This welfare-reform proposal includes many featuresboth
administrative and programmaticrecommended by the Conference.
For example, the inequity of variable eligibility and benefit standards
between States will be virtually eliminated as national standards
are applied. The payment for the aged, blind or disabled would nearly
close the poverty-income gap for these groups.
3. Improved Program Coordination
As a direct result of the Conference recommendations,
the Secretary of HEW approved the establishment of a Special
Assistant for Nutrition Programs in the Office of the Assistant
Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs to provide a departmental
focal point for all nutrition-related activities. Each regional
director has also designated an individual on his immediate staff
to coordinate nutrition activities at the regional level. These
nutrition contacts will be particularly concerned with closer cooperation
among Federal agencies.
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4. Strengthened Nutrition Program
The transfer of the Nutrition Program from the Regional
Medical Program Service to the Center for Disease Control also provides
emphasis to comprehensive nutrition programming within the Department.
In CDC, the Nutrition Program will be able to provide direct service,
program evaluation and reviewin addition to technical advice
and consultation with State and local health agencies. The Center
is supporting twenty nutrition demonstration projects. These projects
concentrate on geographic areas and special groups with identified
nutrition problems, and are designed to provide for the active participation
of the people served.
The Health and Nutrition Evaluation Study,
a new component of the Departments National Health Survey,
will provide information about the nutritional status of the entire
population on a regular basis, as suggested by several recommendations
of the Conference. The results of this study will be used to provide
data on a continuing basis to identify changing food and nutrition
In other surveillance efforts, the Department will
carry out surveys targeted on American Indians and certain migrant
populations. The Maternal and Child Health Service expects to complete
its study of child nutrition later this year.
6. Nutrition Education
Special efforts will be made to revise health curricula
at the primary and secondary levels. Approximately eight pilot projects
will be funded by the Office of Education to demonstrate creative
approaches to linking existing school and community health resources,
so that the multiple needs of disadvantaged children are met more
adequately through the provision of a broad range of physical, mental
health, and nutrition services. Nutrition education as an integral
part of school lunch and breakfast programs will be included to
improve the quality of health education. Initially, about two million
dollars will be available for such demonstration projects.
The Office of Education is also developing a nutrition
information guide on Child Feeding Programs and is drafting a curriculum
guide of "Nutrition Education and the School Lunch in Elementary
In the area of improved professional nutritional education,
the Center for Disease Control is developing teaching aids and programs
for continuing education of professionals engaged in nutrition and
nutrition-related activities. Particular attention will be given
to curricula changes in medical and dental schools.
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7. Comprehensive Health Care
Various recommendations dealt with improvements in
the health delivery system. The Administration has taken several
steps toward upgrading present health deliveryparticularly
for the disadvantaged. The proposed Family Health Insurance Program,
which would replace Medicaid for those poor families with children
(including the "working poor"), is one of these steps.
A total review of Federal health programs is also underway, and
certain changes will be recommended by the President early in 1971.
Meanwhile, every effort is made in departmental programsboth
direct and indirectto include a complete range of health services,
including dental care, family planning, and screening for preventive
8. Food Safety
Many recommendations relating to food safety called
for a comprehensive review of the list of foods termed "generally
recognized as safe" (the so-called GRAS list). To implement
these recommendations, the following steps have been taken or are
- The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing all
items on the list and those which received "prior sanction."
This review will focus on safety, appropriate use, and concentrations
of certain substances in food.
- Once the information is compiled, FDA will make
a safety decision on each GRAS item, and item that received "prior
sanction." The project is scheduled to be completed by the
end of calendar 1971.
- This review has been structured
to facilitate a continuous analysis of GRAS items in the future
through a data storage and retrieval system.
Along with the GRAS review, FDA is attempting to improve
the safety of our food supply by improving the microbiological
testing of foods. The laboratory methods of detecting common
food microbial agents are being standardized and perfected in all
FDA laboratories. Once this step is complete, FDA will train State,
local and private testing laboratories in these standard methods.
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9. Nutritional guidelines
The Conference expressed concern over the increase
in formulated foods, and the concomitant loss of consumer control
over the nutritional quality of foods purchased. To offset any possible
deterioration in the nutritional content of food, FDA is establishing
nutritional guidelines for certain food classes (with
the guidance of the National Academy of Sciences). These guidelines
will suggest to food processors the minimum and maximum levels of
nutrients that should be present in foods. By December, 1970, the
suggested nutrient specificiations for one class of foods will be
completed and submitted to the FDA for evaluation. By 1972 a major
portion of the nutritional guidelines project will be complete and,
through these guidelines, the foundation laid for a sound and comprehensive
national food standards policy.
In addition to nutritional guidelines, nutritional
specifications are being incorporated into new food standards
when appropriate. For example, FDA has established a standard for
an enriched macaroni product with improved protein content. This
standard, if approved, will require a minimum quantity and quality
of protein considerably above that now required for enriched macaroni.
Protein quality and quantity specifications are also being written
into vegetable protein products that simulate meat. A proposal for
doubling iron fortification for flour and bread is also under review.
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10. Labeling for Nutritional Content
FDA has completed the first step in the development
of a nutrient labeling program. After extensive discussions with
nutritionists and consumers, FDA has developed three nutrient labeling
plans that are now scheduled to undergo consumer acceptability tests.
The food industry has expressed great interest in
nutrient labeling and many of the major food manufacturers and distributors
are expected to use FDAs nutrient labeling proposal. At the
time nutrient labels begin to appear on market shelves, a cooperative
food industry and FDA consumer education campaign is planned to
teach the consumer how to best use the new labeling approach.
An improved labeling procedure for iodized salt has
been prepared and a regulation written. The regulation will help
consumers differentiate between iodized and non-iodized salt. Several
proposals have also been written which will allow labeling of foods
for fat content. These proposals are now being considered by the
Commissioner of FDA.
C. Office of Economic Opportunity
1. Support of ongoing programs
Numerous activities of the Office of Economic Opportunity
have had a direct impact on the implementation of Conference recommendations.
In various parts of the country, OEO grants have been used to:
- pay the costs of administering school lunch programs
on a temporary or start-up basis;
- purchase school lunches for eligible students who
cannot afford the costs;
- administer school breakfast programs;
- provide senior citizens with hot, nutritious lunches;
- expand local food assistance programs by providing
additional warehouse space, and by facilitating certification
and the issuance of Food Stamps and Commodities.
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2. Increased participation
To help facilitate greater utilization of food assistance
programs, various OEO agencies have provided essential information
and Outreach services. Legal Services lawyers have continued to
provide information to as many clients as possible concerning opportunities
3. Better methods of solving food problems
Contracts have been awarded to study marketing problems
and possibilities for using fortified foods in various poverty areas.
Grants have been made to analyze the school lunch program in an
effort to achieve maximum cost-effectiveness, nutritional value,
4. Trained manpower
OEO has sought the alleviation of malnutrition and
hunger through the training and use of aides to increase food manpower
and improve food delivery.
OEO is currently addressing these and many other health
and nutrition problems through its comprehensive neighborhood health
centers and related programs.
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D. Federal Trade Commission
1. Revitalized consumer protection
One of the major purposes of the July 1970 reorganization
of the Federal Trade Commission was to improve regulatory efforts
in the vital field of consumer protection. Several steps have already
been taken to insure that the regulation of food advertising receives
greater emphasis and that staff efforts are more productive.
2. Creation of a new "food enforcement"
A special food enforcement section has been established
within the Division of Food and Drug Advertising. Special monitoring
procedures have been established to focus increased attention on
food and beverage advertising, and the Commission is currently receiving
scripts and story-boards from all major networks.
3. "Preventive enforcement"
The food enforcement section has formulated a program
of preventive enforcement to insure that advertising does not mislead
the consumer as to the nutritional value of food products.
First on the list of priorities are matters involving
misrepresentations which may result in immediate and positive injury
to the public health.
Second on the list of priorities are matters involving
misrepresentations that indirectly affect the health or nutrition
of the consuming public by diverting purchases from a nutritious
product to a less nutritious substitute. For example, the Commission
is currently instituting proceedings against certain manufacturers
of "instant" meals. An industry-wide investigation of
"diet" breads and soft drinks is being conducted.
Claims concerning the nutritional value of breakfast
cereals, a staple in the diet of millions of children, are also
being actively reviewed by the Commission staff. The Commission
is also proceeding against certain candy manufacturers for making
unwarranted nutritional claims in their advertising.
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4. Special protection of children
The Commission is devoting considerable attention
to claims in advertising directed at children and to the advertising
of food products consumed by children. Children are, by far, the
most vulnerable to deceptive advertising of this nature and they
play an important role in their parents choice of breakfast
cereals, soft drinks, candy bars, and other foods.
E. Department of Labor
Recommendations affecting the Department of Labor
fall into two main categories: expansion of employment opportunities
in health and nutrition occupations; and assistance to seasonal
1. Expansion of training and skill development
program in health and
Fifteen million dollars was added to training efforts
for health occupation in 1971.
The Departments of Labor and HEW have established
a Joint Committee on Heath Manpower to help develop closer working
relationships at all levels in the area of medical and environmental
health manpower. An experimental training program for physicians
assistants has also been jointly developed to train returning veterans
with medical corps experience to help doctors provide medical services
in rural areas of Tennessee.
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2. Assistance to seasonal agricultural workers
The Departments Annual Worker Plan is helping
over 100,000 migrant workers to obtain steadier employmentand
therefore better nutrition and healththrough regularizing
recruitment and scheduling. Unemployment Insurance coverage for
migrant workers was included in the Administrations proposed
bill but was deleted in Congress. It will be proposed again in the
next session of Congress.
F. Department of Defense
1. Better diets for military personnel
A joint service regulation was issued in March 1970
to improve the diets of military personnel. Daily menus now include
a wider selection of food items. Legislation is being drafted to
provide a uniform food allowance to all enlisted personnel.
2. Use of food stamps at commissaries and more
purchasing power for low-ranking enlisted men
The Department of Defense has authorized the acceptance
of food stamps for purchases of food items in military commissaries,
and the Defense budget for 1971 included a proposed 20 percent pay
increase for enlisted personnel in the lower ranks.
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3. Improved feeding arrangements
DOD is conducting an in-depth review of the military
feeding operation. Several Conference recommendations will be incorporated
into the long-range Research and Development Food Program initiated
July 1970 by the U.S. Army Laboratories at Natick.
As recommended, the Army is testing the feasibility
of consolidating multiple company size dining halls and utilizing
central kitchen facilities. Fort Lewis, Washington, has been designated
as a pilot test site to determine the extent of cost saving and
improved food delivery.
G. Department of Interior
The Department of Interior is primarily responsible
for the recommendations of the subpanels concerned with the Pacific
and Caribbean Territories and American Indians and Alaska Natives.
1. Helping the American Indian
Several significant steps have been taken to alleviate
the plight of American Indians and to hasten the development of
water resources and other facilities to strengthen Indian agriculture:
- Increasing substantially the funding of the general
assistance program for needy Indians to meet increased need. The
Bureau assisted the Navajo Tribe and Tribes on four reservations
in North Dakota by (1) helping the Navajo Tribe enter directly
into an agreement with the Department of Agriculture to receive
supplemental foods, and (2) assisting the North Dakota Tribes
to enter into an agreement with the State of North Dakota to secure
- Providing additional funds in 1971 for an inventory
of critical water needs and for the first stage of construction
of the Navajo Irrigation Project (which will shorten the time
when water can be delivered to the first 10,000-acre increment
of the ultimate 110,000-acre project)
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2. Improving nutrition in the Territorial Areas
Many recommendations were aimed at greater self-sufficiency
in food production and less dependence on more expensive and nutritionally
inferior imported foods. Although implementation is largely the
responsibility of the Territorial governments, a number of steps
have been taken:
- Increased commercial fishing is being promoted
in all territorial areas, in order to provide more protein foods
for the indigenous population and improve the economy; and
- Problem areas in developing a viable indigenous
food industry have been identified.
H. Department of Justice
1. Initiated surveys of nutritional standards
and food service facilities
The Bureau of Prisons has completed a program-wide
nutrition survey to insure that inmates of Federal prisons and detention
homes receive nutritionally adequate meals. The survey indicated
that the diet of prisoners meets, and even exceeds, levels determined
to be adequate.
Special attention is being given to ways to achieve
the most efficient food service operationincluding on-the-job
training for inmates as well as food service personnel. Criteria
for an on-the-job training program for personnel have been developed
as part of a survey of food service facilities and operation.
2. Updated standard guidelines
As recommended by the Conference, the Administrator
of Food Services has continued to update standard guidelines to
assist prisons and detention homes in the proper rations of food
and most efficient foods service operation. State and local officers
are also provided with consultant and inspection services on request.
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