It’s official! The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health will be on September 28th – the first of its kind in over 50 years.
The first conference in 1969 had a pivotal impact on our agency. Just a few months ahead of the conference, Food and Nutrition Service, or FNS, was established to administer federal nutrition assistance programs. The 1969 conference also led to:
- Significant expansion of the National School Lunch Program and the Food Stamp Program (known today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP),
- Permanent authorization of the School Breakfast Program,
- Launch of a pilot program that would later become the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and
- The first ever Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Over the last 50 years, our federal nutrition assistance programs have grown to serve about one in four Americans each year. However, tens of millions of Americans, including children, experience food insecurity, and millions more suffer from diet-related diseases and disparities. These disparities are largely rooted in structural barriers which – among other things – limit access to heathier foods. We must and will do more.
We will accomplish this through a game-changing focus on nutrition security, which means maintaining consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food. FNS already has a lot of exciting actions underway designed to meaningfully advance nutrition security for tens of millions of Americans and support the goals of the White House Conference. For example, we are updating the WIC food package with science-informed changes and refreshing school meals standards while also seeking to support and incentivize schools that pursue nutritious improvements.
These changes will have tremendous impacts on the millions of families enrolled in our programs. But we won’t stop there. The White House Conference will call upon all stakeholders, including FNS, to continue to take bold action to address hunger and improve nutrition and diet-related health. We are committed to that work and forging a new course to address hardship and health.
At FNS, we look back on 1969 as a transformational year for USDA and for millions of Americans facing hunger, and we will work alongside our incredible partners to maximize the 2022 White House Conference so that future generations will feel the same about the work we’re doing together today.
Thank you to all who have engaged thus far through participating in listening sessions and sharing your ideas. We encourage everyone to tune into the conference, host a conference watch party, and consider ways we can work together to end hunger, reduce diet-related diseases, and advance health equity. Let’s do this!