This was a big week in Washington D.C. for creating nutrition security in America. The important convening of scientists, politicians, nutrition and health experts, chefs, and food industry innovators couldn’t be more timely – as inflation rises, the average price of a bag of groceries increases daily. The anticipated rise in food insecurity in America will be a byproduct of both the end of pandemic benefits and concurrent climate and weather crises on both coasts, threatening supply chains and putting more people into peril. Processed food-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension also spike when consumers have to make healthy food choices based on their pocketbooks. “If you look at your child and you can’t feed your child, what the hell else matters?” asked President Biden during remarks at the conference.
Only the second time this conference has convened since the Nixon era, the President was joined by leaders including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, and Chef Jose Andres, Founder of World Central Kitchens. We were thrilled to see so many friends, champions of nutrition security, and healthy school meal advocates.
Underpinning the Biden administration’s goal to end hunger in the US by 2030, the conference unveiled five pillars for action and discussion:
- Improve food access and affordability
- Integrate nutrition and health
- Empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices
- Support physical activity for all
- Enhance nutrition and food security research
“It’s going to take all of us to improve the health of our nation,” observed Miguel Villareal, Eat Real Board Member and National Farm to School Network Representative, after his day at the conference. “But I came away energized after listening to President Biden talk about his strategic plan and Chef Andres lay out a plan of action. Their enthusiasm was contagious.”
Corporations and non-profits responded to this call to action by pledging more than $8 billion to support nutrition and health-related programs. Of these funds, $2.5 billion will be invested in startups looking to solve hunger and food insecurity issues and $4 billion will stake nonprofits offering access to nutritious food, promoting healthy choices, and motivating more physical activity. A breakdown of programs and funding by pillar is available here in the White House fact sheet on the conference. We appreciated Dr. Dariush Mozzafarrian’s summary of the full report.