Thursday, December 1

More than $8bn pledged to Joe Biden’s goal of ending hunger | usnews


More than $8bn has been pledged by private corporations and non-profit groups to help Joe Biden achieve his goal to end hunger and cut diet-related diseases, White House officials announced on Wednesday.

Donors include food industry lobby groups, pharmaceutical companies, the world’s second largest meat packing company, medical associations, a film studio, as well as philanthropic foundations and universities.

The announcement comes as the White House hosts the first conference on hunger, nutrition and health in 53 years. Since then food insecurity has improved but remains shockingly high with one in 10 American households struggling to feed their families in 2021, while the consumption of processed unhealthy foods and diet-related diseases have risen exponentially.

Biden will make a speech at Wednesday’s conference, which officials said demonstrates his commitment to end hunger and improve healthy eating and physical activity by 2030. It will bring together academics, activists, tribal leaders, health professionals and CEOs because the complexity of hunger and diet related diseases requires a “whole society approach”, officials said.

Many of the commitments include donations or support to the country’s food banks, which are relied upon every month by tens of millions of people who cannot afford to feed their families. A compliance mechanism to ensure donors follow through with their commitments has not yet been created, administration officials noted.

Neither the financial nor the national strategy published on Tuesday provide concrete policy commitments to eradicate racial, economic and rural inequalities which are among the root causes of food poverty and processed diets that contribute to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

The food strategy wants to cut these life shortening conditions by increasing access to healthy food and exercise as new data shows that more than 35% of people in 19 states and two territories are obese – more than double the number of states in 2018 – while one in 10 Americans have diabetes.

The pledges, which officials described as “bold and in some instances paradigm shifting”, include:

  • The National Restaurant Association (NRA) will help 45,000 restaurants including fast food chains Subway, Burger King, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Chipotle to create healthier meals for children. The NRA has repeatedly lobbied against increases to the federal minimum wage, which experts say would help tackle poverty and hunger.

  • Tyson Foods will invest $255m in providing food banks with “nutritious protein products” and reduce salt in their processed foods. Tyson has been fined at least $158m since 2000 for employment, antitrust and environment violations.

  • Google will launch a new search feature that should make it easier for people to check their eligibility and apply for food stamps.

  • Food delivery app Instacart will work with USDA to allow customers to use food stamps and other benefits; launch a feature that allows healthcare providers and nutritionists to create shoppable lists for disease-specific diets; and new stipend technology that allows employers and health providers to allot stipends to buy designated fresh foods.

The new hunger and nutrition strategy wants to make screening for food insecurity universal in federal healthcare settings, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and anti-hunger non-profit Share Our Strength have pledged to offer training to all 67,000 member pediatricians by 2030.

There will be no pledge to re-introduce universal free school meals – a pandemic era policy that, along with child tax credits, helped reduce food insecurity before being slashed by Congress. But the national non-profit FoodCorps has committed to investing $250m to provide school meals to half a million children by 2030. In addition, the administration hopes to persuade Congress to expand access to another 9 million kids by 2030, while states including Maine and California has already legislated for universal free lunches.


www.theguardian.com

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