WASHINGTON (The Hill) — The Biden administration on Wednesday hosted a conference on hunger, nutrition and health, the first such conference the White House has hosted in more than 50 years.
Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, President Biden called for the U.S. to build on the measures passed under his administration meant to improve financial security for families, such as the expanded child tax credit and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Biden also proclaimed his aim of ending hunger in the U.S. by 2030.
“This goal’s within our reach. Let’s look at how far we’ve come on child poverty. Thirty years ago, as was referenced, 1 in 4 children lived below the poverty line. Today, 1 in 20 live below the poverty line. So I know we can tackle hunger as well,” said Biden.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the conference will seek to identify nutrition problems within the U.S. and map out immediate recommendations to address these issues. He stated that the food insecurity issues that former President Franklin D. Roosevelt once noted at a nutrition conference in 1941 are still relevant today.
“The first White House conference on food and nutrition more than 50 years ago made significant progress towards reducing food insecurity. Today, USDA runs nutrition assistance programs that serve 1 in 4 Americans every year. However, food and nutrition insecurity still remains unacceptably high,” Vilsack said.
Biden noted the efforts made during his term so far to improve the economy, such as the more than $1 trillion COVID-19 recovery package, which he said have helped to address food insecurity issues.
“Soon after I came to office, I signed what’s called the American Rescue Plan into law. It helped put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of millions of American families. It helped our economy create nearly 10 million new jobs. Most jobs created in that time frame in American history,” Biden said.
“Overwhelmingly, working families use the child tax credit to buy food and other basic needs for their families. And has helped cut child poverty by nearly 50 percent in the United States. 50 percent. And it cut food insecurity for families by 26 percent.”
The White House’s anti-hunger strategy released on Tuesday laid out numerous goals, including expanding free school meals for children by 9 million by the year 2032. The administration also announced the creation of a pilot program to test medically tailored meals for Medicare.
Biden called for a bipartisan effort to address hunger, saying, “In every country in the world, every state in this country, no matter what else divides us — if a parent cannot feed a child, there’s nothing else that matters to that parent. If you look at your child and you can’t feed your child, what the hell else matters?
Recent data has suggested that rates of food insecurity rose recently in response to economic stressors and the end of some safety net programs.
A report from the Urban Institute this month found that 1 out of 5 U.S. adults said their households experienced food insecurity during this past summer. Almost 1 out of 4 parents or guardians in the same study reported that their households were food insecure.