Religion & Liberty Online

The Federal Government Spent $100 Billion on 18 Food Programs Last Year

The federal government spent more than $100 billion providing food assistance to Americans last year, according to recent testimony by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Eighteen federal programs provided food to 46 million people—approximately 1 out of every 7 Americans. Here are the programs and the dollar amount spent:

gao-foodprograms The GAO found significant overlap between these programs which “can create unnecessary work and waste administrative resources, resulting in inefficiency.” The GAO identified several food assistance programs that provide the same or comparable benefits to the same or similar population groups—and yet each program is managed separately:

  • Six programs—the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Milk Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program—all provide food to eligible children in settings outside the home, such as at school, day care, or summer day camps.
  • The Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Elderly Nutrition Program target older Americans.
  • Individuals eligible for groceries through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program are generally eligible for groceries through the Emergency Food Assistance Program and for SNAP.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program and USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program both provide groceries and prepared meals to needy individuals through local government and nonprofit entities.
  • The Summer Food Service Program is similar to the Summer Seamless Option of the National School Lunch Program.

While the programs help millions in need, the GAO notes there are signs of potential overlap and inefficiency among the various federal programs:

While research indicates that the largest programs have positive outcomes consistent with their program goals, limited research on most of the smaller programs makes it difficult to determine whether these are filling an important gap or whether they are unnecessarily duplicating functions and services of other programs. To ensure the most efficient use of resources, it will be important for federal agencies to explore cost-effective approaches for addressing potential inefficiencies and unnecessary overlap and duplication among all of the nation’s food assistance programs

(Via: Washington Free Beacon)

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).