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Newswise — Washington, D.C.

On May 4, the Biden-Harris administration announced that it will hold a historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this September. The conference will be only the second of its kind. The first conference was held in 1969 and organized by Dr. Jean Mayer, the founder of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, under the leadership of President Nixon and Sens. George McGovern and Bob Dole. Fifty-three years later, this second Conference comes at a crucial time: we face new challenges in our food system — including food and nutrition insecurity, chronic hunger, high rates of diet-related chronic diseases, and related nutrition and health inequities — together harming Americans and costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars in preventable health care spending every year. The mission is clear: re‐imagining our nation’s food system to end hunger, improve nutrition, and reduce diet-related chronic diseases. 

Thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration and bipartisan congressional champions, this new White House Conference has expansive goals. This will require bringing together diverse stakeholders, and raising the voices of people with lived experiences in food and nutrition insecurity, hunger, and diet-related disease. To inform and help achieve these goals, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Food Systems for the Future, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and World Central Kitchen are announcing the formation of the Task Force on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health (Task Force), along with an accompanying Strategy Group on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to advise the Task Force. The Task Force brings together a diverse, non-partisan group of stakeholders to inform the goals of the White House Conference. This effort is not organized or endorsed by the White House, but represents an independent effort to convene voices from across the nation to help solve the issues at the heart of the Conference’s focus. 

The Task Force is co-chaired by:

  • Chef José Andrés, Founder and Chief Feeding Officer, World Central Kitchen; CEO, ThinkFoodGroup
  • Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Food Systems for the Future; Former Executive Director, World Food Programme
  • Senator Bill Frist, Vice-Chair, The Nature Conservancy; Former Majority Leader of the United States Senate; Adjunct Professor of Surgery, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Department of Cardiac Surgery
  • Secretary Dan Glickman, Distinguished Fellow of Global Food and Agriculture, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Senior Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center; Former United States Secretary of Agriculture
  • Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean and Jean Mayer Professor of Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University; Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine and Division of Cardiology, Tufts Medical Center

The Task Force Co-chairs thank Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) for highlighting these issues in their work and for their tireless advocacy for this Conference. The co-chairs also thank the Biden-Harris administration for centering the need to end systemic health inequities, and for leading this historic conference. 

Statement from Chef José Andrés:

"This is our moment to come together, roll up our sleeves, and get to work to bring equity to our nation’s food system and to declare that food is a universal human right. To me, this conference is the biggest opportunity of our lifetime not only to fight for food and nutrition security, but to open our lens on what food should mean to our nation and to our world: a more resilient agricultural system, a key to the problem of climate change, a more just immigration policy, and even a national security priority. Now is the time for us to be building longer tables … and I’m happy to be standing side-by-side with the Biden-Harris administration and this Task Force to make it a reality."

Statement from Ambassador Ertharin Cousin:

"I applaud the Biden administration and Congress for leaning into solving the complex issues impacting our food system, resulting in the hunger, health, and malnutrition challenges affecting far too many Americans today. The Conference offers not only an opportunity to identify the root causes but the multisector solutions for positive change. While the White House will lead the dialogue and generate the momentum for government policy action, addressing these complex issues will also require private sector innovation and investment as well as community partnerships for citizen-led awareness. We must all work together to create the opportunity this White House convening offers.”

Statement from Senator Bill Frist:

“Food is medicine, and improving access to quality, nutrient rich food is integral to improving the health and wellbeing of every single American. This Conference and our Task Force are both great steps forward in reducing hunger, rooted in listening to those with lived experiences and bipartisan action.” 

Statement from Secretary Dan Glickman:

“This Conference can be a transformational force in improving the health and wellness of all Americans, reducing diet related diseases, and benefitting American agriculture.”

Statement from Dean Dariush Mozaffarian:

“This Conference could not come at a more urgent time. Today, more Americans are sick than are healthy, suffering from diet-related chronic diseases caused by a food system and policies that make it hard to achieve good nutrition. These challenges are harming communities in profound and inequitable ways — Americans who live in rural areas, have lower incomes, or are racial or ethnic minorities often face higher rates of diabetes, obesity, stroke, and heart disease. These challenges are also driving ever-rising health care spending and harming national security. Nutrition, hunger and health are not partisan issues — the Friedman School is deeply proud to work with our partners to help inform the Conference.” 

The Task Force plans to hold a series of convenings and dialogues across the country to bring together scientists, nonprofits, community organizations, and people from the communities most harmed by our current food system to discuss the policies and actions to achieve the goals of the Conference. Informed by these conversations, as well as existing reports from organizations across the country, the Task Force will craft a report of policy recommendations to deliver to the White House ahead of the Conference to help inform their work. 

This effort is supported by the Bia-Echo Foundation and World Central Kitchen. 

About the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health: The 1969 Conference brought the nation together to address widespread hunger in America and was chaired and organized by Dr. Jean Mayer — a leading nutrition scientist, the tenth president of Tufts University, and the namesake of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts. The conference established much of the current U.S. food policy framework, including major expansion and harmonization of the National School Lunch Program and the Food Stamp Program (now SNAP), creation of the School Breakfast Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and new consumer protections like nutrition labeling. These policies together greatly reduced caloric hunger and vitamin deficiencies in the U.S. It’s time for a second national coordinated effort to update and modernize our food and nutrition policies and systems.

About the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Founded in 1922, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing knowledge and engagement in global affairs. Our in-depth analysis and expert-led research influence policy conversations and inform the insights we share with our growing community. Through accessible content and open dialogue of diverse, fact-based perspectives, we empower more people to help shape our global future. Learn more at thechicagocouncil.org. 

About Food Systems for the Future

Food Systems for the Future (FSF) was founded to catalyze, enable, and scale market-driven agtech, foodtech, and innovative businesses across the value chain to improve nutrition outcomes in underserved and low-income communities. Through wraparound support to enterprises and broader ecosystem building, FSF addresses barriers to affordability, availability, and awareness of healthy, nutrient dense foods through our core services: financing, business acceleration, public policy & education, partnerships & community engagement, and nutrition expertise. FSF currently operates in the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. Learn more at fsfinstitute.net.

About Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is a leading U.S. institution focused on education, research, and public impact around the food system, from soil to society. The School’s five divisions and additional centers and institutes are renowned for the application of scientific evidence to national and international policy. Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier teaching and research universities in the U.S.  Learn more at nutrition.tufts.edu/ 

About World Central Kitchen

Founded in 2010 by Chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen (WCK) is first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises while working to build resilient food systems with locally led solutions. WCK has served more than 70 million fresh meals to people impacted by natural disasters and other crises around the world. WCK’s Resilience Programs strengthen food and nutrition security by training chefs and school cooks; advancing clean cooking practices; and awarding grants to farms, fisheries, and small food businesses while also providing educational and networking opportunities. Learn more at wck.org.