Preparations Begin for White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health
WASHINGTON — The Bipartisan Policy Center and Tufts University co-hosted an event on July 14 to discuss the challenges of food and nutrition in the U.S., in advance of the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in over 50 years, to be held this September.
“While we have made progress in addressing hunger in the U.S… we now face a crisis of nutrition security where many people are overfed, but undernourished,” said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during the event.
The cost to American consumers equates to more than just inadequate nutrition, as the number of diet-related, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has skyrocketed.
“Nutrition is the leading cause of poor health in the United States,” said Booker.
“One out of every three dollars in the federal budget now goes to health care spending, [much] of this money paying for the treatment of preventable diseases,” continued Booker.
In fact, a report from researchers at The Rockefeller Foundation finds that for every one federal dollar spent on food, the U.S. racks up two dollars in health costs and environmental damage.
To better examine the role of food as medicine and how changing to a healthier diet can possibly lessen the number of diet-related, chronic health issues which Americans face, the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research and Evaluation in Southern California implemented a food prescription program in 2019.
Participants in the program include mostly low-income, and Hispanic individuals who have food insecurity and diabetes. The participants are enrolled in a trial where they receive fresh produce and cooking recipes on their doorstep every week for six months.
The menu plan covers three meals a day and snacks, and the cost of groceries per week is about $120 per family.
The foods delivered include a cornucopia of fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, herbs, beans and more.
“It’s not only about treating chronic conditions that cost a health care plan a lot of money… but to improve consumption so people get more out of their lives,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, who serves as dean for policy at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, during the event.
The event was one of three convening sessions, and there will be hundreds of listening sessions over the next few months as a lead up to the conference.
The information from the three events and listening sessions will aid the Bipartisan Policy Center in crafting a report of policy recommendations that the Biden administration can use to develop a roadmap for improving nutrition, ending hunger, and reducing diet-related diseases in the United States.
Alexa can be reached at [email protected]