The White House Conference aims to end hunger, and develop a national strategy

The White House Conference aims to end hunger, and develop a national strategy

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Inflation is hitting food banks and their customers across Indiana. Image courtesy of Foodbank in Northwest Indiana

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) – Food security advocates in the United States want a variety of federal agencies to coordinate a national response that eliminates the root causes of an underlying problem affecting the health of millions of people in this country.

They hope the way to achieve this is through the first White House conference on the problem in more than 50 years.

On September 28, a White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health It aims to take concrete steps towards developing a national strategy to end hunger, improve healthy eating and increase physical activity.

This, in turn, is expected to reduce the heavy toll on diet-related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in the United States.

President Joe Biden announce The conference May 4 as part of the administration’s initiative to address these issues and eliminate the disparities that prevent some people’s access to healthy food by 2030.

Final Agenda was not available Starting Tuesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and local policy advisor Susan Rice are scheduled to participate in the event, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and the International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

pivotal changes

The first such conference, held by the Nixon White House in 1969, spurred pivotal national changes.

This led to nutrition labels, the first-ever Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and a major expansion of the National School Lunch Program and Food Stamp Program, known today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

It also led to permanent authorization for the School Breakfast Program, and the launch of a pilot program that later became the Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC.

Over the past half century, federal food assistance programs have grown to serve about one in four people in this country each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which they manage.

“We look forward to working alongside our wonderful partners to maximize the 2022 White House Conference and are committed to taking bold action to address hunger and improve nutrition and diet-related health,” said Sarah Bleich, director of food security and health equity at the USDA and Food Service. Nutrition, for UPI.

The USDA prioritizes nutrition security As part of this set of activities, we are updating WIC Food Packs with science-informed changes. We are also updating school meal standards while supporting and motivating schools seeking nutritious improvements,” said Bleach.

Additional Financing

Perhaps in preparation for the conference, The US Department of Agriculture announced last week It will provide nearly $2 billion in additional funding for school meal programs and food banks to purchase American-grown foods.

The announcement comes at a time when major indicators are showing that hunger in the United States is on the rise again, now that most of the pandemic-related assistance programs have ended and people are facing massive inflation to buy food, shelter and gasoline.

Frontline groups said time is of the essence when it comes to helping people and making reforms to the system.

Emily Wickert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana Hungry, a statewide network of 11 food banks in Feeding America, told UPI that the organization’s statewide network food banks continue to see an “epidemic level of need” from customers as item prices soar. Food and COVID-19 – Ending Assistance Programs.

Weikert Bryant said she hopes the White House conference will look at the bigger picture.

“The emergency today is that families do not have enough to eat,” she said. “But food is the short-term solution to a much deeper problem…so I hope that by engaging many government agencies, we can tackle the root causes of hunger.”

The upcoming event will bring together the public and private sectors, the Department of Health and Human Services said Monday in a press release.

National Strategy

In conjunction with the event, the White House will release a national strategy that “identifies steps the government will take and galvanize the public and private sectors to address the intersection between food, hunger, nutrition and health,” HHS said in the statement.

The USDA said in a Sept. 6 blog post on the topic: The Next Conference.

The Center for Science in the Public, a food and health watchdog group based in Washington, has published a publication Online petition In anticipation of the conference, he urged changes that promote healthy eating.

guard and suggest Create a new position as the White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Food and Nutrition Policy, along with the National Institute of Nutrition at the National Institutes of Health.

The group is also striving to create a mandatory system of labeling on packaging that effectively signals the Food Valley of Foods to consumers.

“I think it’s fair to say that the idea of ​​food labeling on the front of the packaging has a lot of momentum, and we’d like the White House conference to accelerate that momentum,” Science Center spokesperson at Public Attention Jeff Cronin told UPI in an email. .

“There is at least one thing the Biden administration can do with the stroke of a pen: an executive order that requires foodservice guidelines for foods served on job sites, facilities, and government institutions,” Cronin added.

big need

Meanwhile, while groups await answers from the federal government, the need is dire, Weckert-Bryant said.

Bryant said that before the pandemic, her organization’s budget helped supplement specific shelf-stable products.

“Now we supplement meat, dairy and large amounts of produce because we don’t get enough to meet our customers’ needs from other sources,” she said.

One rural food bank in Indiana budgeted $300,000 for this fiscal year, she said, “and they’ve ended up spending more than $900,000 so far” — with the difference coming from private donations, partners and nonprofits.

“The Indianapolis Food Bank had their biggest distribution month ever in June 2022…then they broke that record in August,” she said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Inflation is hitting our customers and our food banks.”

“If any of our food banks buy a truckload of anything, it could take weeks, and it could get canceled…and we’d still be competing with the retailer for the same product,” she added.

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