ATLANTA—Estimating not even 50 percent of Mexicans in the United States who are eligible for Department of Agriculture programs take advantage of them, U.S. and Mexican officials pledged Tuesday to make Hispanics more aware of programs available to them.
The purpose of their meeting, which included Mexican consuls from Salt Lake City to Orlando, was to find ways to implement recent agreements between Mexico’s Foreign Ministry and USDA officials on Hispanic access to nutrition programs as well as housing and business loans.
“In this campaign, what we’re doing is to make the Mexican community aware of who’s eligible for USDA programs in everything that has to do with WIC, school lunches, food stamps,” said Bosco Marti, the director for North America at Mexico’s Foreign Ministry.
Legal immigrants are eligible for food stamps, while school lunches are open to everybody regardless their immigration status, said Roberto Salazar, who heads the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services.
“It’s imperative that we continue to reach out to Spanish-speaking Americans,” Salazar said.
Lack of information on a healthier lifestyle translates into an epidemic among immigrants—some 70 percent of Mexicans become overweight or obese after arriving in the United States, Salazar said. Twenty-five percent of Mexican-American children are overweight or obese, compared to 15 percent of all Americans.