President Joe Biden will chair the White House Conference on Hunger, Diet and Health on September 28 and will unveil his plan to deliver on his promise to end hunger- and diet-related diseases by 2030.
The conference, planned for the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, will feature panel discussions and working group sessions attended by hundreds of attorneys, educators, health professionals, legislators, cabinet officials and ordinary Americans.
Doug Emhoff — Vice President Harris’ husband — will also speak at the conference, the White House says. Other speakers include Chef Jose Andres, known for his work feeding people after disasters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
It will be the first conference on hunger, nutrition and health since 1969. This Nixon-era conference led to the creation of the major programs that underpin the US hunger response, such as food stamps and child-feeding assistance.
Food, hunger and nutrition advocates are watching closely the release of the White House’s new strategy, which many hope will be as game-changing for food and health as the plan from the first conference.
What’s on the agenda
The conference will open with panel discussions on topics such as nutrition as medicine, promoting physical activity, nutrition in children, public-private partnerships and equity.
During smaller working group sessions, participants will “collaborate and identify actions they will take individually and collectively to meet the goal of ending and reducing diet-related diseases,” according to the White House.
The White House and agencies have spent the past few months hosting listening sessions in preparation for the summit, speaking to representatives from business, health, conservation and environmental groups, hunger and nutrition groups, and school and education groups. They have also incorporated recommendations from organisations, individuals and legislators.
The letters of recommendation reviewed by NPR include a variety of policy proposals such as expanding free school meals and school cafeteria resources, strengthening food assistance programs, and improving outreach to immigrants, Native Americans and other marginalized communities.
Food and nutrition advocates have raised concerns about the government’s ability to meet the high bar set at the last conference.
Many will weigh the success of the conference on how the White House’s final recommendations will be implemented — executive branch actions, partnerships with companies and nonprofits, and into upcoming legislation like the Farm Bill of 2023.
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