Nutrition Programs


Although the United States has one of the most advanced food systems in the world, many Americans find it difficult to maintain a filling and nutritious diet. As a result, the federal government has developed several programs in an effort to assist those in need. The Food and Nutrition Service (“FNS”), a sub-agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), implements and oversees many of these programs, the primary focus of which are providing supplemental food to low-income individuals. However, in addition to helping people get the food they need, there is an increasing focus on nutrition education, and helping people make decisions about the quality of the food they eat. These issues affect so many individuals that the FNS currently reports that one in four Americans are helped by nutrition programs. Most nutrition programs are targeted at a specific group of people who are deemed to face a higher risk of nutrition problems. The overview briefly describes the major federal nutrition programs and how they operate. Read the full overview.

Note: Resources are listed alphabetically

Major Statutes

Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973, 7 U.S.C. § 612c
Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1791
Child Nutrition Act of 1966, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1771-1793
Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983, 7 U.S.C. § 7501-7518
Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1751-1769j
School Breakfast Program, 42 U.S.C. § 1773
Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, 7 U.S.C. § 3007
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, 42 U.S.C. § 1786
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2011-2036 (also known as the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008)


Administration of the Food Distribution Program for Households on Indian Reservations, 7 C.F.R. Part 253
Administration of Food Distribution Program for Indian Households in Oklahoma, 7 C.F.R. Part 254
Child Nutrition Programs, 7 C.F.R. Parts 210-249
Commodity Supplemental Food Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 247
Food Stamp and Food Distribution Program, 7 C.F.R. Parts 271-285
National School Lunch Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 210
School Breakfast Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 220
Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), 7 C.F.R. Part 249
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, 7 C.F.R. Part 246
Summer Food Service Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 225
The Emergency Food Assistance Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 251
WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), 7 C.F.R. Part 248

Case Law

Case Law Index for Nutrition Programs

Administrative Law Decisions

USDA Office of Administrative Law Judges
Center published USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Farm Bills
Food Security/Aid

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Nutrition Programs:

Farm Policy and Legislative Analysis
Food and Drug Law
Fruits and Vegetables — Perishable Agricultural Commodities
Hunger and Food Security Issues
Sustainable and Organic Farming

Reference Resources

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

Connecting Local Farmers with USDA Farmers Market Nutrition Program Participants
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at Farmers Markets: A How-To Handbook

 Economic Research Service (ERS)

Analysis of Previous Farm Bills
Child Nutrition Programs
Consumer Information & Labeling
Diet Quality & Nutrition
Food & Nutrition Assistance
Food & Nutrition Assistance Publications
Food Access
Food Assistance Data & Collaborative Research Programs
Food Consumption & Demand
Food Security in the United States
Household Food Security in the United States in 2020
Low-Income and Low-Foodstore-Access Census Tracts, 2015-19
National School Lunch Program
Policy Topics: Food & Nutrition Assistance
Policy Topics: Food Choices & Health
Poverty & Income Volatility
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Taking a Closer Look at Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation and Expenditures
The Food Assistance Landscape: Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report
The Food Assistance Landscape: Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report
The Food Assistance Landscape: Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report
The WIC Program

Food & Nutrition Service (FNS)

A Short History of SNAP
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
Child Nutrition Programs
Child & Adult Care Food Program
Commodity Supplemental Food Program
Compliance with and Enforcement of the Buy American Provision in the NSLP
Covid-19 Resources for Individuals and Families
Farmers’ Markets Accepting SNAP Benefits
Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
FNS Responds to COVID-19
Food Distribution on Indian Reservations Program
Food Safety
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
Nutrition Education for Child and Adult Care Food Program
Retailer Requirements to Provide Online Purchasing to SNAP Households
School Breakfast Program
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
SNAP and the Thrifty Food Plan
SNAP Fact Sheet
SNAP Outreach
SNAP Community Characteristics
Special Milk Program
State Guidance on Coronavirus Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)
State Systems and the Advance Planning Document Process
Stores Accepting SNAP Online
Summer Food Service Program
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Emergency Food Assistance Program
USDA Foods Available List for CSFP 2022
USDA Foods Disaster Assistance
USDA Foods Programs
Women, Infants & Children (WIC)
WIC Racial Ethnic Group Enrollment Data 2018
WIC Fact Sheet
What is Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)?
WIC Eligibility Priority System

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC)
Guidance for School Food Authorities: Developing a School Food Safety Program Based on the Process Approach to HACCP Principles
Healthy Meals Resource System
Nutrition Security
Nutrition Security Research Resources
Toddler Nutrition

Congressional Resources

USDA Food Box Program: Key Information and Opportunities to Better Assess Performance (GAO-21-353, September 2021)
Global Food Security: Information on Spending and Types of Assistance Provided by the US and Other Donors (GAO-21-47R, November 2020)
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (B-332221, June 2020)
Agencies Could Do More to Help Address the Nutritional Needs of Older Adults (GAO-20-18, November 2019)
Better Information Could Help Eligible College Students Access Federal Food Assistance Benefits (GAO-19-95, December 2018)
WIC: USDA’s Review of Vegetables Available under the Program (GAO-18-125R, November 2017)
Modifications to School Lunches for New Nutrition Standards (GAO-13-708T, June 2013)
Risk of School Children Consuming Recalled Food (GAO-09-649, August 2009)

Other Federal Resources

2018 Farm Bill Primer: SNAP and Nutrition Title Programs (Congressional Research Service)
Child and Adult Care Food Program (
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (USDA)
Farm Bill Primer: What is the Farm Bill? (Congressional Research Service)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA)
Nutrition Assistance Programs (Social Security Administration)
Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) (
SNAP: A Primer on Eligibility and Benefits (Congressional Research Service)
SNAP-Ed Connection (USDA)
SNAP Facts (Social Security Administration)
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) (
USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs: Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Congressional Research Service)

Additional Resources

Effects of Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs on Nutrition and Health (Fox et. al.)
Chart of Federal Nutrition Programs
State Laws for School Snack Food and Beverages
Food Research and Action Center
National Association of Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs
Feeding America: Impact of Coronavirus on Food Insecurity 
EBT Stocking Requirements
Farm Bill Primer
Feeding America: The State of Senior Hunger in 2020
How the Farm Bill is Helping Reduce Hunger
Hunger, Poverty, and Health Disparities During Covid-19 and the Federal Nutrition Programs’ Role in an Equitable Recovery
Overview of the Laws Governing Child Nutrition Programs
Pandemic EBT: A Vital Tool to Reduce Childhood Hunger This Summer
Resources for Underserved Communities: Highlight on Food Insecurity and Food Access
Restrictions on Use of Public Assistance Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards
SNAP Supports Rural Families
The Reach of Breakfast and Lunch: A Look at Pandemic and Pre-Pandemic Participation
The Road to the 2023 Farm Bill: A Strong Nutrition Title and the Rural/Urban Alliance
The Second White House Conference on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

Publications (not freely available)

School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program (Levine, 2010)