Health

Promote Healthy Food Choices in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Require Nutrition and Wellness Education to Reduce Obesity

Proposal

Community best practices have shown we need to promote healthier food choices in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To further address the obesity and diabetes epidemic along the Texas/Mexico Border, enhanced nutrition and wellness education should be provided for anyone applying for SNAP, Medicaid, CHIP, etc. In this manner, we can promote healthier choices and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes and its medical and hospital complications.

Background

We know that healthier food choices promote healthier lives. Therefore evaluating the nutrition standard and providing nutrition and wellness education in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is critically important as many children and families receive this assistance. Nutrition value standardization of foods, especially those provided by government subsidies- Women Infant and Children's Program (WIC), National School Meal Program and SNAP is critically important. These make an impact children's and their families' well-being; as well as, provide food to prevent hunger. However; families currently on SNAP, are allowed to purchase candy, cakes, chips and high carbohydrate sugar drinks which are not conducive to healthier outcomes. We need to test best practices incentives for persons on SNAP who chose healthier options, are more physically active and keep their appointments for preventive health care. Best Practices, such as those conducted in Laredo for Children and Families, can be expanded with additional resources. Even though additional resources will be needed initially, the long term savings and healthier outcomes are a substantial savings when you compare medical complications and hospitalizations.

We ask HHSC to work with the US Department of Agriculture to help address the obesity and diabetes epidemic by changing the current SNAP practices and align the menu with WIC and the National School Meal Program. Although we understand SNAP is a food and hunger program not a nutrition program, SNAP's current diet and nutrition value of foods contributes to the obesity crisis in the state, nation, and especially along the Texas/Mexico Border. SNAP allows for the purchase of soft drinks, candy, cookies, crackers, cakes, sweets, chips and energy drinks, all high in calories and sugars that do not have a positive nutrition value. We recommend that SNAP change their policy and not allow the purchase of high carbohydrate foods.

Laredo stands ready to share its best practices in wellness, nutrition education, disease self- management, physical activity, children's summer programs and community engagement to promote active living and reduce obesity, diabetes and heart disease; as well as, fight hunger.

Contact

Dr. Hector F. Gonzalez
Health Department Director
2600 Cedar Avenue
Laredo, TX 78040
Phone: (956) 795-4901
Fax: (956) 726-2632
Email: hgonzalez@ci.laredo.tx.us