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FNS Staff Recall Highlights from White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

Posted by Sasha B. Chamberlain, MS, RDN, Public Affairs Specialist, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition Nutrition Security
Nov 15, 2022
A group of 21 USDA Food and Nutrition Service employees dressed in professional attire and wearing conference badges pose together on a marble staircase in front of a blue conference banner at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

Like many of our USDA colleagues across the country, federal staff from the Food and Nutrition Service were glued in last week to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Many attended in-person to contribute ideas and host the event alongside White House staff, and hundreds more tuned in virtually. It was a day to remember, filled with excitement and a renewed commitment to the important work our agency does to improve food and nutrition security.

The conference and related national strategy (PDF, 776 KB) offer an important opportunity to acknowledge FNS’ role in reducing hunger, increasing healthy eating and mitigating health disparities. Our new report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights the many ways FNS will continue to make strides toward the bold goals set during the conference. As Secretary Vilsack said in his opening remarks, “Something like this hasn’t happened in more than 50 years. Let’s keep the momentum of today going in a new and meaningful, strong way so we can fully meet this important moment—for our children, for our community, and for our country.”

Here’s what FNS staff had to say about the event and what lies ahead:

  • “It was such an inspirational day—I was struck by the energy and excitement at the conference and the enthusiasm from the attendees to work together to meet the conference goals.” – Jackie Haven, deputy administrator, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
  • “I was excited to hear medical professionals stating emphatically the connection between nutritious food and overall health. I felt such pride to be part of the great mission of FNS while listening as speakers shared their personal experiences with food insecurity, the support provided by our programs and their desire to pay it forward.” – Dr. Patty Bennett, Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator
  • “Engaging with diverse, forward-thinking individuals across various sectors of government, academia, and non-profit organizations, while listening to folks willing to share their lived experiences mirrors the all-hands-on-deck approach needed to provide nutritious food for all and eliminate diet-related diseases.” – Justice Wright, senior technical advisor, Office of Policy Support
  • “The conference provided such a great opportunity to reflect on what we have accomplished and look forward to what still can be done. I was inspired by the overwhelming commitment and energy from all the speakers and excited to hear throughout the conference that FNS programs are so much a part of the solutions.” – Tim English, associate administrator, Regional Operations and Support
  • “It was an honor to participate and represent the FNS SNAP team at this historic event. My role as notetaker for pillar 3 and facilitator for a small group session enabled me to engage with conference participants and speakers in a positive way to support the vision to end hunger by 2030.” – Laura Griffin, senior policy advisor, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • “As Chef José Andrés said, school meals are the ‘Trojan horse of goodness!’ I’m looking forward to using my opportunity as a presidential management fellow to work across FNS and other agencies to devise creative and equitable ways to extend nutrition education and food access between the school lunch table and the family dining table.” – Stacey Viera, program analyst and presidential management fellow, Office of Child Nutrition Programs
  • “I appreciated seeing the broad range of individuals who participated in the conference, particularly the young people. I am excited to see what substantive changes are inspired by the conference and proud to support the goals of ending hunger and improving health outcomes. This is a really exciting time to work for FNS!” – Alexei Schnakenburg, program analyst, Western Regional Office
  • “It was such a powerful and motivating conference and for the sake of our generation and those to come, let’s keep the momentum going!” – David Herring, nutritionist, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
  • “This event was a great reminder that FNS and its partners do so much more than provide food—they connect people to their communities, provide nutrition security and empower the most vulnerable to make healthy choices that not only impact themselves, but generations after them.” – Katey Yoast, lead data analyst, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office
  • “During the conference, I felt inspired and motivated. The potential for both intragovernmental and public-private collaboration is exciting—and I am grateful to have a role in improving the lives of our fellow Americans.” – Patrick Farrell, WIC program specialist, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office
  • “It was a historic and life-changing day for all Americans, whether they realized it or not! I was particularly excited to hear this administration acknowledge the relationship between promoting healthy eating and reducing preventable diseases.” – Tiffany Reuss, WIC nutritionist, Southwest Regional Office
  • “Incredibly thankful that the administration held this summit to focus on the food security issues that continue to devastate our nation. This renewed focus will help continue the important work of eliminating hunger from our nation.” – Brian Solomon, SNAP E&T program analyst, Western Regional Office
  • “Ambassador Rice’s ending with national 4-H rock stars and having all the youth attendees stand up was a powerful ending to the day, ensuring youth voice is a part of all we do!” – Sheila Fleischhacker, special assistant for nutrition security