President Joe Biden will headline the White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health on Sept. 28, unveiling his plan to make good on a pledge to end hunger and diet-related diseases by 2030.
The conference, planned for the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, will feature panels and working group sessions involving hundreds of advocates, educators, health care professionals, lawmakers, cabinet officials and everyday Americans.
Doug Emhoff – the husband of Vice President Harris –will also speak at the conference, the White House says. Other featured speakers include Chef Jose Andres, known for his work feeding people after disasters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
It will be the first conference on hunger, nutrition and health since 1969. That Nixon-era conference led to the creation of the big programs underpinning U.S. hunger response, like food stamps and child nutrition assistance.
Food, hunger and nutrition advocates are closely watching for the release of the new White House strategy, which many hope will be as transformational for food and health as the first conference’s plan.
What’s on the agenda
The conference will open with panels covering topics like food as medicine, promoting physical activity, childhood nutrition, public-private partnerships, and equity.
During smaller working-group sessions, participates will “collaborate and identify actions they will take individually and collectively to help achieve the goal of ending and reducing diet-related diseases,” according to the White House.
The White House and agencies have spent the last few months hosting listening sessions to prepare for the summit, talking to representatives from corporations, health care, conservation and environmental groups, hunger and nutrition groups and school and education groups. They have also taken in recommendations from organizations, individuals and lawmakers.
Recommendation briefs reviewed by NPR include a wide variety of policy proposals like expanding universal free school meals and school cafeteria resources, boosting nutrition assistance programs, and improved outreach to immigrant, Native American and other marginalized communities.
Food and nutrition advocates have raised concerns over whether or not the administration will be able to match the high bar set by the last conference.
Many will weigh the success of the conference on how the White House’s final recommendations are implemented — the executive actions, partnerships with companies and nonprofits, and in upcoming legislation like the 2023 farm bill.