| Abigail McShinsky | August 21, 2018 |
At MegaFood, we’re a passionate bunch — our vision is to nourish a world in nutritional crisis. This may sound big and scary and intimidating, but it’s also exciting! When we asked ourselves how we were going to continue our commitment to the planet and its people, we knew we needed to enlist some help. This is exactly why we brought on our Vice President of Social Impact, Sara Newmark.
Sara and her team have been hard at work leveraging our passion for wellness and nutrition to start making that big vision a reality. One aspect of addressing our current nutritional crisis is to level the playing field: Access is for everyone.
Good nutrition is not a luxury
Data continues to demonstrate that we are a nutrient-poor country, with Americans falling short on 11 key nutrients. The data also shows that low-income Americans are more likely to fall short of their nutrient needs than others. We believe, however, that good nutrition is not a luxury.
The gap in SNAP (food stamps)
For those struggling to make ends meet, SNAP benefits (Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, sometimes called food stamps) can be life changing. SNAP was created to “promote the general welfare and to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s population by raising the levels of nutrition among low-income households.”1
Despite that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data finds that 97 percent of adults utilizing SNAP benefits are failing to get recommended levels of vitamins and other key nutrients.
Fill it up
One (dare we say obvious) step in filling this gap is allowing SNAP benefits to cover multivitamin costs. The language we are supporting for Senator Hatch’s proposed amendment to the Senate Farm Bill would provide SNAP recipients a low-cost option to improve their health and wellness through the purchase of a multivitamin-mineral along with other food items. Multivitamin-minerals are a safe, convenient, and scientifically supported way, in combination with a balanced diet, to fill essential nutrient gaps.
The Hatch amendment would allow those on SNAP to choose a multivitamin-mineral product containing at least half of the essential vitamins and minerals at 50% of the recommended daily allowance. Products could not exceed upper tolerable intake levels for any nutritional supplement, and no other type of dietary supplement would be made eligible.
Including a multivitamin-mineral in SNAP adds no additional costs, yet empowers low-income consumers with an additional healthy choice for better nutrition.
Important to note: While we hope that participants will be able to afford a premium supplement like MegaFood, we recognize that many people on lower incomes will be limited, and will likely buy less-premium brands. What is most important to us is that everyone has the option to get his or her nutrition gaps covered in the first place, by any quality supplement.
Urge the Senate Ag Committee to fill the Gap In SNAP and help low-income Americans live healthier. By including a multivitamin in SNAP coverage, program costs do not increase — instead, it gives recipients the ability to make healthier nutrition decisions, because Access is for Everyone.
Need those talking points?
If you’re driven to help, here’s a template to help you get the word out to your local senator. Email is an option, physical letters are great, personal letters are even better… and telephone calls have the most potential. No matter how you choose to communicate, we sincerely appreciate your help to fill the gap in SNAP, and to bring our population one step closer to better nutrition for all.
Dear Senator [Name],
I am writing to urge your support for a House provision in the Nutrition Title of the Farm Bill that allows for the inclusion of a multivitamin in SNAP benefits.
The purpose of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is to “promote the general welfare and to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s population by raising the levels of nutrition among low-income households.” The demographic referenced has a disproportionately insufficient and nutritionally inadequate diet and the multivitamin-mineral can serve as an effective bridge between what Americans should eat and what they actually consume.
Numerous reputable studies have indicated Americans do not consume essential nutrients at recommended levels through diet alone, especially for low-income populations. Of course, the best way to get all of the recommended daily nutrients is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, but that can prove difficult to accomplish on SNAP benefits alone.
The inclusion of a multivitamin in SNAP can provide an immediate solution for SNAP recipients looking to improve their nutrition and ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients. In addition, including a multivitamin-mineral in SNAP benefits creates no additional costs to the program and provides low-income consumers with additional choices to stay healthy. Therefore, allowing SNAP recipients to use their benefits to purchase a multivitamin-mineral would provide them with a safe, easy, and cost-effective opportunity to improve their nutritional status.
It is my hope that the Farm Bill Conference Committee will give the House provision thoughtful consideration and work to ensure the language remains in the final package to the Trump Administration. Including a multivitamin in SNAP benefits is a strong step forward, improving the nutrition and lives of low-income Americans at no cost to the taxpayer.