Multi-Pronged Approach Calls for Expansion of SNAP, WIC and Health Savings Accounts
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Senate Agriculture Committee considers the nomination of Tom Vilsack to be the next U.S. Agriculture Secretary, the Natural Products Association (NPA) is calling for an expansion of federal food assistance programs. As part of a multi-pronged approach, NPA is supporting policies that would cover nutritional supplements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA).
NPA’s effort comes as a growing hunger crisis is sweeping the nation, impacting 29 million adults and 12 million children. The Biden Administration recently announced an executive order aimed at providing relief for American families and businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
“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.”
Nutritional supplements play an important role in supporting the health of millions of people in the United States and around the world, especially those who are from areas without adequate access to nutritious foods:
- Zinc deficiency can compromise immune function and increase the risk of infection, affecting an estimated 30% of the global population.
- A World Health Organization (WHO) report specifically zinc supplementation and immunity respiratory viruses in children.
- 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.