NCC recently submitted comments to the White House to help inform the final report of policy recommendations that will be presented in September at the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.

“Lean meats like chicken can help close the protein gap among Americans who struggle with food and nutrient insecurity, which particularly impacts women, children, and older adults who have greater need for nutrient-dense animal-sourced foods to support healthy diets,” wrote NCC President Mike Brown.

Chicken is already playing a major role in the fight against hunger — it has been factored in as a component of the updated Thrifty Food Plan, which can help people follow optimized, affordable, and nutrient-dense eating plans that satisfy taste and fit into cultural foodways. Chicken is also part of
the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and is listed under the budget friendly protein foods on the MyPlate Shop Simple app with many SNAP-appropriate recipes in the MyPlate Kitchen resource. Additionally, chicken is a key player in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP),
providing low-cost or free lunches to children with essential nutrients for growth, development, and energy; it is also one of the most consumed meats in the NSLP.  It seems to be the case that no matter what the federal nutrition assistance program is, chicken has a place on the plate.

“At NCC, we believe that every American deserves increased access to safe, wholesome, planet-friendly, and nutritious foods like chicken,” said Brown.

To that end, NCC recommended the following opportunities to expand access to and ensure availability of chicken as a nutrient-dense, high-quality protein source:

  • Renew the Farmers to Families Food Box Program
    The Farmers to Families Food Box Program was responsible for helping many American families keep food on the table through the pandemic while also supporting local agriculture. USDA was able to leverage excess capacity in the chicken industry to provide chicken to people in need, which in turn helped support demand, which translates into more shifts for local workers and more flocks for local farmers. NCC encourages USDA to renew this or a similar program.
  • Expand Section 32 purchases
    Section 32 purchases provide another way for USDA to procure affordable, nutritious protein for those who need it. NCC encourages USDA to identify ways to expand Section 32 purchases, both in terms of the volume and type of chicken procured through the program. NCC also encourages USDA to
    evaluate program requirements and purchase specifications to make it easier to participate in the program.
  • Expand cold storage capacity and the nation’s long-haul trucking fleet
    Cold storage facilities and overland trucking are important sectors that support numerous industries. They also have relatively modest overhead and lower barriers to entry. Investing in these important supporting sectors would benefit a significant number of industries, amplifying the effect of any federal dollars invested. Most food banks and charities also have limited cold storage, and only six in the country have the USDA-inspected “cold clean rooms” that would be required to receive and package meat donations.
  • Increase safe storage, packing, and distribution infrastructure
    This will enable food charities to provide more poultry to families in need.

The comments can be read in their entirety by clicking here.