Biden Administration Unveils Plan Aiming to End Hunger in U.S. by 2030

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will embark Wednesday on an ambitious effort to end hunger in the United States by the end of the decade, convening hundreds of lawmakers, health advocates, farmers and business leaders as it lays out a plan to make healthy food. more accessible throughout the country.

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health will be the first such gathering since 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon hosted a summit that aimed to “end hunger in America forever.” . President Biden’s meeting comes at a fragile time for the US economy, as the expiration of stimulus efforts and rising food prices have raised food insecurity to levels not seen since early the pandemic.

“When families can’t afford healthy food options, it’s harder for children to succeed in school and can lead to physical and mental health problems for the entire family,” Biden said in a statement accompanying the White House plan.

The Biden administration is presenting the summit and its focus on food as a key part of its “equity agenda.” The report notes that diet-related illnesses disproportionately affect communities of color and people in rural areas.

The plan includes proposals to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, introduce “medically tailored” meal coverage to Medicare, move labels to the front of food packages, encourage the food industry to reduce sodium and sugar, and expand nutritional research.

Eliminating hunger is a formidable goal that, as Nixon’s failures five decades ago show, has eluded generations of lawmakers. Mr. Biden also starts with plenty of signs pointing in the wrong direction: Lines at food banks are getting longer. Food prices are rising at their fastest rate in four decades. And fears are mounting of a recession that could push more Americans into the unemployment ranks.

Many of Mr. Biden’s proposals are also not guaranteed to be enacted. Some can be achieved through regulatory measures, Biden administration officials said, but others will require legislation from Congress. It’s unclear how quickly some of the proposals could take effect, but there is added urgency as Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed up energy and food prices around the world.

The food industry often resists new regulation, and many of the guidelines in the Biden administration plan are voluntary.

Administration officials said before the conference that several companies would announce commitments to improve food safety in the United States. Kroger will work with the American Heart Association on a $250 million “food is medicine” initiative. The National Restaurant Association will work with fast food chains to ensure that children’s meals contain only water, milk or juice. And Rethink Food, a nonprofit organization, will work with restaurants to divert millions of pounds of unused food to communities facing food insecurity.

Healthier eating was also a top priority during the Obama administration. Michelle Obama, the first lady, spearheaded the “Let’s Move” initiative, which aimed to eliminate childhood obesity by revamping the way America’s children eat and play and by revamping school lunches, playgrounds and medical exams.

But in 2017, the Trump administration reversed several of Mrs. Obama’s efforts to promote healthy school lunches.

Although food insecurity is a problem, the United States is still much better off than many other countries. According to the World Bank, almost 193 million people around the world faced food insecurity last year.

A agriculture department report this month found that about 90 percent of American households were food secure last year, while about 10 percent, or 13.5 million, struggled to provide enough food for family members.