PHA at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
At the core of Partnership for a Healthier America’s work is Food Equity - the concept that everyone, no matter their zip code, should have access to affordable, good food. Our mission is something that everyone can agree on, even if they don’t agree on how to do it. What we have lacked to date is momentum, the will of all sectors and a prioritization on transforming our food system to improve public health. That sense of momentum is what we took away from the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, and that this work is a national priority with a shared strategy.
As Senator Cory Booker noted in his remarks at the opening of the day, “So my hope is that this is the beginning of another major movement in America to expand access to healthy, fresh foods, affordable foods, as well as making sure that we stop this over-proliferation of highly processed, sugar-filled, nutrition-empty foods that are really driving disease at alarming rates.”
Fixing America’s broken food culture requires us to take a hard look at the entire food landscape, from the public and private sectors, to nonprofits and the charitable food system. Through the administration’s national strategy, and with more than $8 billion in commitments across sectors, we have a roadmap. It is an important first step, but now comes the hard part - we must think in an integrated way across the full food system.
Fortunately, this is what PHA does best, and exactly what we were built for. PHA is the nation’s leading nonprofit working toward Food Equity. We do that by working with companies, the public and charitable sectors to transform the food landscape for better. Since 2010, we have removed 7 trillion calories and literally tons of salt, fat and sugar from the national food supply, by working with everyone from Fortune 100 companies to food banks, community based organizations to state and local governments.
We have added healthy food to thousands of menus across the country by working with companies and early childhood education centers, as well as adding hundreds of new veggie-focused products for infants and toddlers to the marketplace. We have added more than 20 million servings of vegetables and fruits to the marketplace since 2021. We helped make water the most consumed bottled beverage in America. But there is much more work that must be - and will be - done.
We have made a commitment of adding 100 million servings of vegetables, fruits and beans to the marketplace by 2025. We have gathered together companies, early childhood education centers, associations and community organizations to work with us to improve equitable access to foods that build health through Good Food Access Commitments.
We are excited to share our top 7 takeaways from the Conference:
At long last, we have a national strategy that prioritizes public health and that understands that vegetables, fruit and other healthy food must be at the heart of that strategy. Our food culture was built to prioritize our desire for salt, fat and sugar for more than 100 years. It will take time to rebuild it into one that prioritizes equity and health. The Conference can serve as a turning point in shifting from a mindset of treatment of diet-related diseases to preventing them. We must work to fix our broken food culture - and it starts with prioritizing wellbeing.
The Conference galvanized people from all sectors - government, agriculture, companies, nonprofits, philanthropy, youth and the general public, to focus on the intersection of hunger, nutrition and most importantly, health.
A call for a national nutrition education campaign was featured prominently, and is much needed. As we have learned from our FNV campaign, it is critical that this education focuses on healthy foods, like vegetables, fruits and beans. SNAP-Ed funding should prioritize education that helps level the playing field between promotion of foods that build health against foods that tear it down.
Investment in innovative ways of connecting people with healthy food is needed to transform our food system. From reimagining grocery stores so that the healthiest items are featured and creating greater online access, to calling on entrepreneurs to develop new and innovative models to create access to healthy food., An $8 billion commitment from the private and charitable sectors is a welcome start. Federal incentives would also accelerate the pace of these much-needed reforms, but more is needed to truly be transformative.
The FDA has suggested new rules that will define what food can be labeled as “healthy” on the front of packaging. This type of transparency is critical for helping all consumers make healthier choices no matter where or how they buy their groceries.
We know the power of food to build health, and the Conference highlighted food as medicine, underscoring how a diet rich in plants could help treat - and even reverse - disease. While we should ensure that we’re focused on prevention, produce prescription initiatives are an important step in treating America’s diet-related disease epidemic.
The administration called on the USDA to establish regional food centers to support local business. This type of support can help communities of all sizes, but particularly underserved ones, reimagine grocery stores as places that highlight affordable, nutritious foods. In particular, we believe that this type of support for local businesses can focus on places like the Mississippi Delta, where PHA is doing long-term work to increase both the supply of and demand for vegetables and fruits with a focus on locally grown and Black farmers in the region.
Now that the Conference has wrapped up, our work can really begin. It’s up to all of us to get to work. As Chef José Andrés said during the Conference, “We can all carry this weight together.”
If you’re a company interested in working with us to ensure everyone, in every zip code, has access to good food, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.