A press release noted that the United States had not ended food insecurity since President Richard Nixon held the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health in 1969. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden is slated to resurrect the event.
“There is no silver bullet to address these complex issues, and there is no overnight fix,” the White House explained. “Making progress requires collective, sustained action and mobilization across every segment of society. That is why President Biden announced a goal of ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 so fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases — while reducing related health disparities.”
Among other initiatives, the White House intends to increase access to free school meals by expanding the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility, piloting medically tailored meals via Medicaid, and increasing Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries’ access to nutrition and obesity counseling. The plan likewise contains a push toward physical activity, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) planning to expand the State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program nationwide.
“Too many families don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal,” Biden said in a video message discussing the conference. “There are too many empty chairs around the kitchen table because a loved one was taken by heart disease, diabetes, or other diet-oriented diseases, which are some of the leading causes of death in our country. And the toll of these diseases is not distributed equally — it’s higher in certain racial and ethnic groups.”
Price levels between August 2021 and August 2022 rose 8.3%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with prices for food increasing 11.4% over the same period. The cost of food at home, a category that includes grocery store or supermarket food purchases, rose 0.7% from the previous month. According to a report from Bank of America, roughly 71% of Americans “feel the cost of living is outpacing growth in their salary or wages.”
Meanwhile, Biden has signed multiple federal stimulus packages during his tenure, including the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which economists argue have contributed to inflationary pressures and low labor market participation.
The announcement of the expanded federal hunger initiatives comes days after Biden unveiled the Cancer Moonshot initiative with the intent of creating “a cancer research and care system that most people think we already have, but don’t realize until they already have cancer that we don’t.” The announcement came exactly 60 years after President John F. Kennedy’s historic vow to land astronauts on the Moon.
However, the Biden Cancer Initiative, a charity launched by the Biden family in 2017, raised nearly $5 million and spent more than $3 million on staff salaries during its first two years, according to a report from The New York Post. The group spent $56,738 on conferences and $59,356 on travel during the first year — figures which swelled to $742,953 and $97,149 in the second year.