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White House gets partners to end US hunger in a decade

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is counting on a variety of private sector partnerships to help finance and implement its ambitious goal of ending hunger in America by 2030.

President Joe Biden is hosting a conference Wednesday on hunger, nutrition and health, the first by the White House since 1969. That conference, under President Richard Nixon, was a watershed moment that influenced the agenda of US food policies for 50 years.

The conference organized by Nixon, a Republican, led to a major expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, and gave rise to the Women, Infants and Children program, which serves half of the babies born in the United States. EE their mothers with advice on parenting, breastfeeding support and food assistance.

This year’s conference hosted by Biden, a Democrat, focuses on his goal of essentially ending food insecurity for all Americans by the end of the decade. It also seeks to promote healthy eating, good nutrition and physical activity so that fewer people suffer from diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other diseases related to food.

Before the conference, the Biden administration released a list of more than $8 billion in commitments to the cause from private companies, charitable foundations and industry groups. They range from direct donations to in-kind service contributions and include:

—A $20 million commitment from pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to improve access to healthy food and safe spaces for physical activity in underserved communities.

—A $3.85 million commitment from grocery store chain Publix to supply food to local food banks and establish free mobile food pantries.

—$22 million from food company Danone to fund a program to help “at least 300 million Americans develop healthier eating habits.”

—A commitment by the Meijer supermarket chain to offer up to 10% discounts to encourage users of the SNAP program to buy fruits and vegetables.

Some of the conference’s goals are reminiscent of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to address childhood obesity and promote healthy eating, highlighting the need for access to better and healthier diet and exercise.

While Biden touts the successful private-sector buy-in campaign, some of the strongest potential obstacles to his proposals lie in the increasingly partisan Congress.

Proposed policy changes include an expansion of SNAP eligibility, expanding access to free meals in schools, and extending summer meal benefits to more school-age children. All of those changes would require congressional approval.

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