WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is rolling out its plan to meet its ambitious goal of ending hunger in the U.S. by 2030, including expanding monthly benefits that help low-income Americans buy food.
The administration’s plan released Tuesday also aims to increase healthy eating and physical activity so that fewer people suffer from diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other diet-related diseases. He said he would work to expand Medicaid and Medicare access to obesity and nutrition counseling.
“The consequences of food insecurity and diet-related disease are significant, far-reaching and disproportionately affect historically underserved communities,” Biden wrote in a memo outlining the White House’s strategy. “However, food insecurity and diet-related diseases are largely preventable if we prioritize the nation’s health.”
This week, Biden is hosting a conference on hunger, nutrition and health, the first at the White House since 1969. This conference under President Richard Nixon was a pivotal moment that influenced the US food policy agenda for 50 years. This led to a major expansion of the food stamp program and gave rise to the Women, Infants and Children program, which serves half of the children born in the US by providing women with parenting advice, breastfeeding support and food assistance.
Over the years, cuts to federal programs, combined with welfare stigmas and major changes in how food and farming systems are managed, have led to reduced access to food.
Biden, a Democrat, hopes this week’s conference will be just as transformative. But Nixon, a Republican, also aimed to “end hunger in America forever.”
And yet 10% of US households in 2021 were food insecure, meaning they were not sure they would be able to get enough food to feed themselves or their families because they lacked the money or resources to food, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
To succeed, Biden needs support from the private sector and an increasingly partisan Congress. Some of the goals are reminiscent of former first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy eating. The conference will also highlight the need for access to better and healthier food and exercise.
In his memo, Biden said that over the past 50 years, “we’ve learned a lot more about nutrition and the role of healthy eating in our children’s success in the classroom, and about nutrition and its connection to disease prevention.”
Under the White House plan, eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would be expanded, children would have better access to free meals, and summer benefits would be extended to more school children. Such changes would require congressional approval.
Other tenets of the strategy include developing new food packaging to verify “healthy” claims for some foods, expanding SNAP incentives to choose fruits and vegetables, providing more programs to encourage people to get outside and moving, and increasing funding for research.
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