Getting food, local food is part of the White House's strategy on hunger

Getting food, local food is part of the White House’s strategy on hunger

The White House outlines a new strategy to tackle hunger and encourage healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, Sept. 28, in White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.

Conference speakers, including lawmakers and experts in food, nutrition, agriculture, and more, discussed challenges related to food security in the United States and possible solutions. Among many other things, it included supporting local and regional food systems to help people get healthy food, and helping farmers keep their produce local.

On the same day, the White House announced $8 billion in public and private pledges to tackle hunger and health through philanthropy, corporate investments, and investments in research.

The conference was the first in more than 50 years, and was last held in 1969. Out of this conference came the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans, along with expansions of food assistance programs and a pilot program that eventually became the Special Supplementary Program. Nutrition program for women, infants and children.

“Where [the last conference]”Advances in research and medicine have taught us a lot about nutrition and health,” President Joe Biden said at the conference. “I’m holding this conference again because I believe we can use these developments to do more to make America a stronger and healthier country.”

strategy

The new strategy includes five focus areas, focused on improving food access and affordability, integrating nutrition and health, ensuring consumers have access to healthy options, supporting physical activity, and enhancing nutrition and food security research.

In 2021, 1 in 10 households experienced food insecurity, and nearly 4% of households had a very low level of food security, meaning they were regularly skipping meals or reducing their food intake.

Diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are some of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Lack of access to healthy food, and diet-related diseases, affect some communities more than others, including rural communities, communities of color, and older adults and veterans.

“Food and nutrition security are fundamental to our national security and economic future,” said Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture. “However, food and nutrition insecurity remains unacceptably high.”

local food

Part of making sure people get healthy food is building local diets. Among many other priorities, the USDA will invest in local and regional food systems through grants and other assistance to Food, Distribution, and Processing Centers.

Some food hubs and cooperatives started or expanded their processing and distribution business during the pandemic, when food systems across the United States faced a lot of pressure. But even as some of the effects of the pandemic have diminished, these co-ops can be an important part of the diet going forward.

The epidemic started this process. “We are now talking about something far beyond that as part of the regular course of action to distribute nutritious foods,” Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmers Cooperatives, said on a committee on expanding local food options. This means that these organizations will have to seek more funding sources, as pandemic relief funds dry up.

In addition to funding, addressing the regulatory challenges of things like schools and food assistance programs to buy local food can help make it easier for communities to get fresh, healthy food.

“I think we have a lot of opportunity about … innovative and proven practices, which we need to think about how we scale up,” said Charlene McGee, program director for the Multnomah County Department of Health’s REACH Program in Oregon. Health differentials through food and nutrition, during the session.

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