The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
Wednesday’s conference focused on President Biden’s pledge to end hunger in the U.S. by 2030 and highlighted $8 billion in public and private sector commitments towards that goal.
The White House chose to focus on their non-Congressional capabilities to create new public-private partnerships in a more challenging legislative season, with major corporate mentions including Chobani, Tyson Foods, Kroger, and Dole.
Prior to the Conference, the White House released a summary (including the link to the full report) of its National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. One of the central pushes of the Conference is the Food and Drug Administration’s call for new standards in food labeling, including front of packaging nutrition information.
As the midterm elections are approaching, the White House and Democrats in power face challenges as food prices rise– an issue raised throughout the event.
Background on the White House Conference on hunger, nutrition, and health
The first White House Conference on Nutrition was held in 1969 and highlighted the major War on Poverty food and nutrition initiatives that began in that era. This year’s conference was started largely from the initiative of House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wanted to ensure President Biden highlighted the achievements of Democratic feeding programs to date, and to show Democrats casting an ambitious vision for the future of fighting hunger prior to the midterms.
Leading up to the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, the CDC Foundation (a main implementing partner for the event) released a set of five pillars framed to contribute to the Conference’s goal of ending hunger, and increasing healthy eating and physical activity. Corporations and organizations were invited to submit commitments towards those pillars. An emphasis of the pillars was on the reduction of diet-related disease, promotion of physical activity, and expansion of access and understanding on nutrition.
In President Biden’s remarks to open the Conference Wednesday morning, he noted that from the past 50 years, advancements in medicine and science allow the U.S. to call for an end to hunger by 2030. The bulk of his address focused on the pandemic, which brought food security and diet-related diseases to the forefront as families waited in long lines at foodbanks and those with obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other forms of diet-related diseases lived with an increased risk of hospitalization from COVID. He also pledged to raise the minimum wage and expand nutrition assistance programs to help reduce hunger rates.
The President encouraged the stakeholders present to continue with the mission to address food insecurity. He announced an $8 billion dollar investment from different organizations and stressed the need for the work ahead to be bipartisan. The Administration announced an expansion of training for medical professionals focusing on nutrition in young children as well as older adults. The strategy will strive to make provisions from the American rescue plan permanent.
In the next 10 years, the White House expects these strategies will allow up to 9 million schoolchildren to have access to meals. He specified this means healthier meals, better production from farmers and strengthened family economies in addition to the expansion of the following initiatives:
Physical education classes and summer programs with the assistance of training programs in dieting, exercise, and overall health
Incentives for the purchase of healthier foods and utilize SNAP benefits for local, sustainable, and healthy plant-based foods
The strategy will work with the American Infrastructure Plan to create areas for physical activity, and the Administration will look to expand the child tax credit program to increase the food availability.
Implications for Food and Agriculture Businesses
A major component of the White House's strategy is reliant on partnerships with companies and nonprofits. Private companies have committed over $8 billion in investments to help reach the White House goals. In 2020, Agriculture, food, and related industries contributed $1.055 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product, a 5.0-percent share. The output of America’s farms contributed $134.7 billion of this sum which is about 0.6 percent of GDP.
The White House and Chairman McGovern hope that an output of the Conference is additional incentives for the food and agriculture industry to provide healthy, responsible, and low-cost food options to children while continuing to increase partnerships with educational institutions. The federal government will financially aid start-ups and philanthropic ventures to make healthier food and create jobs. Additionally, commitments have been made by major companies such as Chobani, which will consider a $15 minimum wage increase to reduce hunger for their employees.
Chobani will launch a national corporate responsibility initiative, called Food Access in Reach (F.A.I.R.): Ending Child Hunger One School at a Time, to encourage businesses to “adopt-a-school” and pledge to make it food- and nutrition-secure.
Dole will will work with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Mississippi, with support from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation and Partnership for a Healthier America to commit a minimum of $212,500 to launch a 12-month pilot program this fall to increase access to fruits and vegetables for as many as 24,000 families in Jackson, Mississippi.
Over the next 7 years, Tyson Foods will invest $255 million into anti-hunger charities to expand access to nutritious protein products, with a focus on rural and underserved areas.
It will commit an additional $20 million to provide evidence-based nutrition learning programs for children and their families in the over 100 communities where Tyson operates. In addition, Tyson commits to reformulating and improving the nutritional value of its prepared foods portfolio, with a focus on reducing sodium.
John R. Tyson, Executive Vice President and Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer, of Tyson Foods stated that some of the most successful government programs focused on health and nutrition are built around collaboration with the private sector and that the effort will expand an existing program the poultry processor has where they provide grants for foodbanks for bigger fridges and storage equipment to hold and pack more food.
The Rockefeller Foundation, American Heart Association, and Kroger, plan to mobilize $250 million to build a national food is medicine research initiative. Raj Shah, President of Rockefeller, characterized the initiative as a preventative health tool to ensure that people are well nourished in order to stay healthier. Currently, the collaboration is in discussions with payers and healthcare systems, including Kaiser Permanente, Apple and the Veterans Health Administration
Where is it going?
As the White House is calling the National Strategy a “whole of government” and “whole of society” response with multiple partners outside of government, it will take time to implement and likely see uneven strength across the 25 federal agencies and regional commissions that will execute the strategy. While the Centers for Disease Control’s foundation led much of the Conference planning due to its ability to coordinate with the private sector with more dexterity, it is not yet determined who will be the implementation lead going forward.
The U.S. November midterm elections that will determine control of Congress will also determine some of President Biden’s ability to create new federal funding opportunities to support the 2030 goal. By putting more emphasis on private sector partnerships and focusing on already appropriated funding for nutrition-related initiatives from the American Investment Act and Inflation Reduction Act, the White House can more easily drive the National Strategy.
Quotes from corporate and political leaders
"We are honored to have the opportunity to be part of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health – an event which provides a historic opportunity to engage stakeholders across the food system to address these critical topics...At Danone, our mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible is embedded into everything we do and for the last 50 years we've worked to create both shareholder and societal value through what we call our Dual Project. The investment we announced today illustrates our mission in action."
- Shane Grant, CEO, Danone North America
Half of the population is diabetic or prediabetic. And that statistic and its impact worsens for our black and brown population. 1 out of ever 3 government dollars is being spent on healthcare. 80% of our healthcare problems in this country are preventable. This is money that can't go to education. It does not have to be this way. Food IS medicine. We need to put the F back in the FDA.
Senator Cory Booker, D-NJ
As a tech company that delivers groceries, partners with organizations across the country, and prioritizes food insecurity as a pillar of focus, Shipt is uniquely positioned to contribute to this conversation...These new initiatives are an essential part of our ongoing commitment to put people first and make a meaningful impact in parts of our country that have been left out or left behind...I’m looking forward to sharing more details about our new commitments to reduce food insecurity with the White House today and with our customers and community partners in the weeks and months to come.
Kamau Witherspoon, CEO, Shipt
We are proud to join the White House and dozens of public, private and non-profit organizations who share our longstanding commitments to end hunger, eliminate food waste, and improve health and nutrition for all Americans...As Kroger marks our fifth anniversary of Zero Hunger | Zero Waste and remains on track to donate 3 billion meals by 2025 and our Kroger Health business is uniquely positioned to provide care at the nexus of food and medicine, we welcome and applaud this collective focus on new initiatives and innovative ways to support our shared missions.
Rodney McMullin, Chairman & CEO, Kroger
We have to stop the silos. We have so many government silos looking at individual elements of this conversation. Private industry is siloed. Faith organizations are siloed. We need to leave here with an assignment - a collective assignment - to get this done. This is only the second time in 50 years that we have brought this conversation to the table in this way. WIC, Food Stamps and food labelling came out of the last conference in 1969. This is our moment. What is coming out of this conference? What assignment are we leaving here with… for tomorrow? For next week… for next month. This is our moment."
Chairman McGovern, (D-MA)
Joe Biden 46th President of the United States of America
Shavana Howard Assistant Secretary of Family Support for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services
Donna Martin Burke County Public Schools nutrition director
Mark Ramos Union representative for food and commercial workers
Shannon Razsdin Executive director of the Military Family Advisory Network
Dr. Rajiv Shah President of the Rockefeller Foundation
Dr. Kofi Essel Board-certified pediatrician at Children's Health Center Anacostia
Dr. Sachin Jain Chief Executive Officer of the Scan Health Plan
Karen Pearl Chairperson of the Food Is Medicine Coalition
- Chuck Conner, Moderator,>Former Secretary of Agriculture
- Charlene McGee Health Educator at Multnomah County Health Department
- Tara Roberts-Turner General Manager of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative
- Sherrie Tussler Executive director of Hunger Task Force
- Phoebe Wong First-year Holy Cross student
- Tom Farrey Executive director of the Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program
- Al Bangoura Superintendent of the nationally acclaimed Minneapolis Park System
- Jaci McCormack CEO/Co-Founder of Rise Above
- CiCi Rojas President and CEO of the Central Exchange Missouri
- Bill Frist Former Majority Leader of the United States Senate
- Swati Chandra Director of Food Equity Roundtable Los Angeles County
- Angela Odoms-Young Lead investigator for the Nutrition Liberation, Food Sovereignty, and Justice Lab at Cornell
- Ross Wilson Executive Director, Shah Family Foundation
- Erin Fitzgerald CEO, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action
- Mary Blackford Founder, Market 7
- Diana Tellefson Torres Executive Director, United Farm Workers Foundation
- Kamau Witherspoon CEO, Shipt
- Mindy Woods, Human Services Program Manager, City of Edmonds, WA
- Dr. Shereef Elnahal Under Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Dr. Thea James President, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
- Walter Murillo CEO, NATIVE HEALTH
- Denise Scott President, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
- Lazarus Lynch, Moderator,Chef and Host, Chopped U
- Kaster Dee Garrett-Adimora Senior Store Manager, Everytable
- Shane Grant Danone North America
- Dr. Susan Mayne Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Nadia Torney Administrator, Kimball Elementary School (Washington D.C)
- Lysa Ratliff President & CEO, KABOOM! (moderator)
- Cathy Grano School Nurse, Middletown Township Public Schools (NJ)
- Jermaine Harris Community Policing Sergeant, Chicago Police Department and Co-Founder, Chicago Westside Sports
- Ann Marie Krautheim CEO, GENYOUth
- Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Maribel Campos-Rivera Professor and Founder, University of Puerto Rico Center for Community Outreach and Health Across the Lifespan
- Jimmieka Mills Co-Founder, Equitable Spaces
- Mia Ives-Rublee Director of the Disability Justice Initiative, Center for American Progress
- Dr. Donald Warne Professor and Co-Director, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for American Indian Health