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White House announces over $8 billion in hunger and nutrition commitments

(WASHINGTON) — Ahead of President Joe Biden’s conference Wednesday where his administration will call to end hunger and decrease diet-related diseases by 2030, the White House announced that the private and public sector are committing more than $8 billion to reach that goal.

“These range from bold philanthropic contributions and in-kind donations to community-based organizations, to catalytic investments in new businesses and new ways of screening for and integrating nutrition into health care delivery,” the White House said in a fact sheet released Wednesday.

The first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health was held more than 50 years ago, according to the administration.

The White House noted that at least $2.5 billion will be used to back start-up companies finding solutions to hunger and food insecurity, while over $4 billion will go toward philanthropy that strengthens access to healthy food, encourages healthy choices and expands physical activity.

A senior administration official told reporters on a call that over 100 organizations “have committed to bold and, in some cases, paradigm shifting commitments that will meaningfully improve nutrition, promote physical activity and reduce hunger and diet related disease over the next seven years.”

Actions to achieve the president’s goal are spread across five pillars: improving food access and affordability, integrating nutrition and health, empowering consumers to make and have access to healthy choices, supporting physical activity for all and enhancing nutrition and food security research, according to the White House.

The administration announced that wholesale restaurant food distributor Sysco will give $500 million to advance healthy eating for its serving communities and Warner Bros. Discovery will give 600 million meals to children experiencing food insecurity.

Google will also introduce new features in its products to help people obtain public food benefits and health care services, it said.

Last year, 10.2% of American households experienced food insecurity at some point, the Department of Agriculture said.

The White House also announced that the National Restaurant Association will increase its Kids Live Well program to 45,000 more restaurants. Major fast-food chains, including Subway, Burger King and Chipotle, have already committed to the initiative, which helps restaurants create healthier meal choices for children.

Restaurants in this program commit to certain standards like only offering water, milk or juice for kids’ meals, rather than soda, the fact sheet said.

For at least one million Americans at risk for a diet-related disease, MyFitnessPal will grant them free and premium-level membership on its app by 2030, White House said. The Special Olympics will also introduce an initiative that will, in part, increase SNAP-Ed benefits for people with intellectual disabilities.

Starting next year, the White House said the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Heart Association aim to mobilize $250 million in partnership with Kroger to build the first national “Food is Medicine Research Initiative” to integrate healthy food into the healthcare approach.

“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 administration said in an executive summary of the White House’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

Some of the initiatives in the strategy, like expanding free school lunches, would require congressional cooperation, but that seems unlikely to happen in the near future.

In the summary, the White House noted “the rising prevalence of diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and certain cancers,” and how the consequences of them and food insecurity “disproportionately impact historically underserved communities.”

Obesity was more common in Black adults than other adult groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last year, which increases their risk of serious diseases and health conditions.

Almost 50% of Black adults were obese, compared to 45.6% of Hispanics, 41.4% of Whites and 16.1% of Asians.

“Food insecurity and diet-related diseases are largely preventable, if we prioritize the health of the nation,” the White House said.

Held in the nation’s capital, the conference is expected to draw more than 500 attendees — from farmers to business leaders and academics to activists.

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