PHA's Statement on the National Strategy on Hunger, Health, and Nutrition
This morning, the White House released its strategy on Hunger, Health, and Nutrition, to coincide with the Conference being held tomorrow in Washington, DC.
Partnership for a Healthier America believes that this strategy promises to be far reaching if all actors do their parts – government, private sector and nonprofits. We applaud the administration’s stated desire to shift from a mindset of treating diet-related diseases to preventing them from occurring in the first place. This shift in focus is essential and is a critical component to achieving Food Equity.
The administration is also wise to see that the government cannot do it alone. Throughout the strategy, they call on states, businesses, nonprofits and the general public to step in and do their part. In one example they call on states to set up “incentives to attract healthier retail outlets in underserved areas” and for “improving health in existing stores.”
The strategy would also benefit from federal incentives that would accelerate the pace of these much-needed reforms, 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.
Here are important areas where PHA’s work aligns with the administration’s proposed strategy:
- The White House is shifting from a mindset of treatment of diet-related diseases to preventing them. While many of the initiatives laid out in the strategy still focus too heavily on treatment, PHA agrees that we must work to fix our broken food culture - and it starts with prioritizing wellbeing.
- A call for a national nutrition education campaign features 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.
- The administration calls 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.
- There is a call for new sodium-reduction targets and to reduce added sugar in foods, and PHA has long been a key nonprofit for companies looking to make their products healthier for consumers. We stand at-the-ready to work with the private sector to voluntarily accomplish these goals.
- PHA’s work also requires supporting innovative solutions to increase access to affordable, healthy foods. The strategy calls for modernization efforts to essential food programs like SNAP and WIC, making them available online. They also call for grants and awards for entrepreneurs that “incentivize food”. We will work to invest in, research and help to scale innovative opportunities in this space.
There is much work to be done, and this is the time to do it. Through PHA’s commitment to add 100 million servings of vegetables, fruits and beans to the marketplace by 2025, combined with the push of the government, as well as innovation and investment from the private sector and new focus from people in all walks of life, we can and will achieve our mission.
We will be looking to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health tomorrow to see whether President Biden and Secretary Vilsack announce new federal funds. Regardless, we’ve all got to put our shoulders into this.