The White House held the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health — the first such conference in 50 years — on Sept. 28 to address hunger and diet-related diseases. The event comes amid a U.S. economy experiencing red-hot inflation, with food at home prices rising 13.5% over the last year.
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“With this gathering of elected officials; advocates and activists; and leaders of business, faith, and philanthropy from across America, we are mobilizing the will to meet a bold goal: to end hunger in America and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 so fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
The administration also announced a national strategy organized around five pillars.
“The Biden-Harris Administration envisions an America where no one wonders whether they will have enough money to put food on the table, where the healthy food choice is the easier choice, and where everyone has the same opportunity to be physically active,” the White House statement read, in part.
The administration’s five pillars include improving food access and affordability, by providing Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) benefits to more children and expanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility to more underserved populations. The administration said it will also work with Congress to expand access to healthy, free school meals for 9 million more children by 2032, according to a report.
In addition, it intends to integrate nutrition and health, including expanding Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries’ access to nutrition and obesity counseling.
It will also help consumers have access to healthy choices, including by expanding incentives for fruits and vegetables in SNAP. The last two pillars of the plan include supporting physical activity for all and enhancing nutrition and food security research.
The White House said that in 2021, 1 in 10 households experienced food insecurity, and 4% of households experienced very low food security. In addition, it noted that diet-related diseases are some of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. It added that these challenges disproportionately impact communities of color, people living in rural areas, people living in territories, people with disabilities, older adults, LGBTQI+ people, military families, and veterans.
Speakers at the conference included chef José Andrés, ambassador Susan E. Rice and Sen. Cory Booker.
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