Hunger, nutrition and health will be on the White House's plate this Wednesday, and it's been over 50 years since the issue was brought to the forefront of any administration's agenda since 1969.
In May, President Joe Biden announced plans to hold the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health since the Nixon administration and he made an ambitious promise.
“I’m committed to taking bold steps that are going to help end hunger and enable everyone, everyone to have access to affordable, healthy food and safe places to be physically active,” Biden said in a YouTube video in May 2022.
The administration says its goal to end hunger in the U.S. by 2030 is a reachable one. The last conference in 1969 led to expansions of the Food Stamp and School Lunch Programs. It also led to the creation of the Women Infants and Children program, also known as WIC, which helps supplement the dietary needs of low-income recipients. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., is one of four lawmakers credited with petitioning the White House to hold the conference.
He says Wednesday's event will be about coming up with ideas for policy changes in the future to end hunger in America by 2030.
“We do not have a plan. At this moment, we haven't had a plan to end hunger and that's what this conference is about...to come up with a roadmap and a plan to end hunger and to also address the issue of the difficulty people are having accessing nutritious food,” McGovern told Spectrum News.
The conference will include several high-profile guests and will take place at the Ronald Reagan Building, though most conference participants will take part remotely. Representatives from the New York City nonprofit Community Food Advocates will hold one of many satellite events taking place nationwide that will coincide with the conference in real time.
“Having this happen on a federal level is key. This can't be piecemeal and ensuring that we institutionalize this on a broad scale is what ensures that we can reverse these changes," Ribka Getachew of Community Food Advocates said.
Liz Accles, executive director of Community Food Advocates, said they're pushing for the federal implementation of the universal free school meal program.
“The idea of government response to hunger and poverty issues is key, so and that there are solutions that really could address and eliminate hunger, food insecurity, and build a better food system," Accles added.
Over the weekend, the Biden administration launched a new website linked to the event where people can upload videos with their thoughts on hunger.
The White House is also accepting written suggestions online.
"It will take all of us to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases and the disparities surrounding them. Over the past several months, the Biden-Harris administration has heard ideas and stories from all Americans on how to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities," the White House wrote on its Hunger, Nutrition and Health website.