Washington, D.C.—With a growing hunger crisis in the U.S., the Biden Administration announced an executive order aimed at providing relief for American families and businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Noting that 29 million Americans— and as many as 12 million children—are now impacted by the hunger crisis, the all-of-government effort calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs.
The Natural Products Association (NPA) issued a release to raise awareness of the need as the Senate Agriculture Committee considers the nomination of Tom Vilsack to be the next U.S. Agriculture Secretary. As part of a multi-pronged approach, NPA supports policies that would cover nutritional supplements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA).
“All Americans deserve access to products that support their health and expanding federal food assistance programs and health savings accounts to include nutritional supplements is the best way to make that happen,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of NPA. “This solution is in line with the Administration’s goal to support underserved communities, boost nutrition, fight COVID, and promote long-term health.”
NPA pointed out the important role supplements play in supporting the health, especially for those from areas without adequate access to nutritious foods. A few key points, as highlighted by NPA in the press release:
Mounting evidence suggests a link between vitamin D deficiency and serious COVID-19 illnesses. Experts in the U.S. and around the world have urged policymakers to consider the benefits of vitamin D supplements to help support immune systems and prevent serious illnesses. Related: Vitamin D Sufficiency Linked With Better COVID-19 Outcomes.
- Zinc deficiency can compromise immune function and increase the risk of infection, affecting an estimated 30% of the global population. Related: Research Links Low Zinc Levels With COVID-19 Mortality Risk
- According to available data, 95 percent of adults and 98 percent of teens have an inadequate vitamin D intake and 61 percent of adults and 90 percent of teens do not get enough magnesium.
- More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in food deserts (areas that are more than a mile away from a supermarket).
Related: 2020 Dietary Guidelines Released
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