What’s the Word On: The First White House Hunger Conference Since 1968
The first White House conference in nearly five decades to focus on preventing hunger and improving access to nutritious food was more than welcome, to say the least.
At the September 28th conference, it was revealed that the federal government has received $8 billion in commitments from public and private-sector entities, such as Google, to provide more higher-quality food by 2030.
The day-long conference consisted of panel discussions and brainstorming sessions consisting of health experts and policy makers. Anwar Khan, President of Islamic Relief USA, was also in attendance.
President Biden stated with the help of the corporate world, several goals can be accomplished, such as reducing the number of neighborhoods that presently lack access to healthful food or a grocery store.
“(H)elp more Americans access the food that will keep their families nourished and healthy – a lot of food deserts out there,” he said. “Second, give folks the option and information they need to make healthy dietary choices. Thirdly, help more Americans be physically active.”
Officials said if these problems are left unaddressed, they can bleed into the working world, the military, and in education, diminishing productivity in all those areas.
Some 13.5 million households, 10.2% of the U.S. population, experienced food insecurity last year. As many as 828 million people around the world have experienced hunger since the coronavirus pandemic made its presence known in early 2020.
The pledges from corporations to fight hunger are well meaning and we hope they bear fruit — literally and figuratively. And there are signs that they are doing more than providing lip service. For example, the National Restaurant Association is working to ensure kids meals have beverages other than soda.
But as many people know, lasting change will only happen through Congressional approval of various policies and programs. The last hunger conference in 1968 helped bring about the various food assistance safety net programs that have helped keep hunger from skyrocketing further. It’s unclear if anything of that magnitude will come out of the most recent anti-hunger and nutrition summit.
The Biden Administration had put out a wish list of sorts of the goals that it wants to accomplish in strengthening food security and providing healthful options. They include expanding food stamps, providing more tailored meals for Medicare patients, and less sugar and sodium in foods.
Access to food and nutrition and better nutrition are subjects that both major political parties can find some agreement on. Islamic Relief USA, which conducts several food assistance projects throughout the year in various corners of the world, is hopeful that whatever differences that still exist — largely about costs, size and eligibility — can be overcome in the name of better health and a better functioning society.