President Biden announced May 4 that the White House will hold a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September, for the first time in more than 50 years.
“The Conference, and the preparatory work leading up to it, will accelerate progress and drive significant change to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce diet-related disease, and close the disparities around them,” according to a statement from the White House.
“Too many families don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal,” Biden said in a video announcing the conference “There are too many empty chairs around the kitchen table because a loved one was taken by heart disease, diabetes or other diet-oriented diseases, which are some of the leading causes of death in our country.” See the video announcement below:
Biden-Harris goal: eliminate hunger in US by 2030
The Biden-Harris Administration has established a goal of eliminating hunger and promoting healthy eating and physical exercise in the United States by 2030, so that fewer Americans suffer from diet-related disorders including diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
“For our country and our children to reach their highest potential, we must not only keep food on the table, but also aim for everyone to enjoy nutritious and affordable food that contributes to their overall health,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in announcing the White House goal. “This administration is committed to tackling both food and nutrition insecurity in order to prevent the diet-related diseases that plague our country, address health disparities in underserved communities, and give all Americans a chance for a healthy future.”
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra added that “tackling food insecurity is key to boosting the nation’s health.”
“Our understanding of science and social determinants that affect nutrition and physical activity has evolved in the past five decades, and it is high time we prioritize nutrition more for the sake of saving lives. As we prepare to gather for this conference, HHS—in partnership with federal agencies—continues to make new discoveries tied to healthy eating and physical activity, and advance guidance and policy to reduce Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension,” Becerra said.
The White House last organized an event on food insecurity more than 50 years ago, in 1969, when President Richard Nixon hosted the Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health. This was a turning point in country’s food policy agenda, resulting in the extension of the food stamp and school lunch programs, the establishment of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and enhanced nutrition labeling.
Russian war on Ukraine is impacting the global food supply
The conference is expected to be attended by advocates like chef and humanitarian José Andrés, as well as representatives from food companies, the health care community, and local and state governments, according to CNN.
Andrés spoke with CNN shortly after returning from Ukraine, where he and his team at World Central Kitchen have worked to feed thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the war.
“If Ukraine is showing us anything it’s that we take food for granted,” Andrés told CNN. “And the world is about to go hungry because the war is happening in Ukraine.”
Russia’s invasion on Ukraine has impacted global food supply, driving up the prices of important agricultural items produced in the region, particularly wheat, and many nations are concerned about shortages.