McGovern, Walorski, Booker, Braun Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Convene a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger and Health
Washington, October 26, 2021
Tags: End Hunger Now
Today, Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would convene a national White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health. The bill would provide $2.5 million for the conference and lay the groundwork for the historic event, which would be only the second such conference in American history.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would convene a national White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health. The bill would provide $2.5 million for the conference and lay the groundwork for the historic event, which would be only the second such conference in American history.
The first and only such conference was held in 1969 under President Nixon, the same year America landed a man on the moon. That conference led to landmark legislation and nearly a decade of transformational progress in the fight to end hunger in America—spurring the creation and expansion of programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program. The Members of Congress are pushing for a hunger and nutrition conference for the 21st century that would take a whole-of-government approach to ending hunger and combatting nutrition insecurity in America and feature a more diverse set of voices, including those with lived experiences. Over 200 nonprofit, academic, labor, faith-based, corporate, and agricultural organizations from across the country have endorsed the bill.
“Each night, tens of millions of our fellow Americans go to bed hungry. That’s just plain wrong,” said Congressman McGovern. “What we lack isn’t food or resources; we lack the political will and moral courage to act. The COVID pandemic showed that hunger isn’t just a problem for someone else. It’s something anyone can struggle with in the blink of an eye. It’s time for us to bring together experts and create a holistic, whole-of-government plan to end hunger and nutrition insecurity. I look forward to working with our bipartisan group to make this White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger and health a reality.”
“No neighborhood in Indiana or around the country is immune from hunger. Combating food insecurity in America and eliminating barriers that are holding back families from success are bipartisan priorities,” said Congresswoman Walorski. “To be responsible stewards of taxpayer resources, we must discern what works best to address hunger and food insecurity in our communities at the local, state, and federal levels. The White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger, and Health will be an important forum for bipartisan collaboration on data-driven and evidence-based solutions to deliver real results for families in need.”
“Fifty years ago, our nation convened a conference to address the widespread hunger crisis in America, leading to the creation and expansion of programs such as WIC and the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program,” said Senator Cory Booker. “Despite the progress made, America is grappling with a hunger crisis and now faces a second crisis—one of nutrition insecurity—that is plaguing our nation and hindering the success of our nation’s youth as a result of decades-long policy failures in our food system. This bicameral, bipartisan legislation will, in the spirit of 50 years ago, convene a second conference of advocates, healthcare professionals, and farmers and ranchers to address the failures and inequities of our broken food system that is poisoning our communities and preventing us from achieving true justice.”
“The time has come to address our nation’s food insecurity with a bipartisan, commonsense approach. There is no reason that millions of Americans in rural and urban areas alike should be going to sleep hungry, not knowing where their next meal will come from, or with poor nutrition,” said Senator Mike Braun. “I am eager to convene a conference food, nutrition, and health to help reach nutrition goals in the most efficient way possible.”
“I am proud to support the efforts of Chairman McGovern and Senator Booker to introduce bipartisan legislation convening a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger, and Health,” said Chef José Andrés, founder of the food relief nonprofit World Central Kitchen. "Whether after disasters, in our schools, or fighting ongoing hunger in our local communities, I believe in the power of food to bring all Americans together. We must build longer tables where nutrition insecurity becomes a problem of the past. I look forward to working closely with President Biden, the White House, and Congress on making this long-overdue conference a reality.”
“As a country, we can end hunger. 36 million Americans went hungry even before the pandemic – we should not aspire to just going back to the way things were before the pandemic, we should aspire to do better,” said Top Chef judge and food activist Tom Colicchio. “Ending hunger in America isn’t just some dream or slogan, it’s something that we can and will make into a reality, and that starts with convening this White House conference.”
Although new census data shows that recent actions have brought hunger in America to its lowest level since the pandemic began, returning to the pre-COVID status quo would leave tens of millions of people hungry in every congressional district in the nation. More than 35 million people, including 10 million children, were going hungry in America even before the COVID pandemic hit. Nonprofit groups estimate that hunger costs the United States over $160 billion each year in poor health outcomes, chronic disease, and lost productivity.
This White House conference would bring together the heads of food banks, hospitals, government agencies, nonprofits, educators, individuals with lived experiences, and more, with the goal of crafting a real plan with benchmarks to end the hunger crisis by 2030, as the United Nations has called for.