Food and Nutrition Service
|Formed||August 8, 1969|
|Parent agency||United States Department of Agriculture|
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The FNS is the federal agency responsible for administering the nation’s domestic nutrition assistance programs. The service helps to address the issue of hunger in the United States.
FNS administers the programs through its headquarters in Alexandria, VA; regional offices in San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, and Robbinsville (NJ); and field offices throughout the US. While its staff number among the USDA’s fewest, its budget is by far the largest.
FNS was established on August 8, 1969 as an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Several FNS programs, however, pre-date the creation of the agency and trace their roots back to Depression era programs.
FNS products and services are provided to one in five Americans; its main products and services include:
- commodities supplied as: prepared meals that are served at congregate feeding sites; food packages that may be used for home consumption; and disaster relief assistance
- food assistance through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards; nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals and snacks; vouchers; and, fresh, locally grown produce
- nutrition education and promotion materials and presentations delivered by expert staff and senior managers; and
- food safety and security efforts, technical assistance and informational materials
Nutrition assistance programs
These products and services are provided through fifteen domestic nutrition assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — Formerly known as the Food Stamp program, SNAP is now the cornerstone of USDA’s nutrition assistance.
- National School Lunch Program (NSLP) — Lunches subsidized by the NSLP are nearly ubiquitous in public schools. The program has operated since 1946.
- School Breakfast Program (SBP)
- Special Milk Program (SMP)
- Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program / Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)/(SFMNP)
- Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
- Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Food Assistance for Disaster Relief (FADR)
- Nutrition Assistance Block Grants, including Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)
The FNS is in charge of the national “Eat Smart. Play Hard.” campaign, which encourages Americans (more specifically, children and teens) to follow the healthy eating guidelines set by MyPyramid. The spokescharacter of the “Eat Smart. Play Hard.” campaign is Power Panther.