Opinion: It’s time for a second White House food summit | 2021-07-09
Certainly one of the main issues on the table this year is the global food supply and how to improve the different food systems around the world. In the wake of COVID-19, and with global warming having a profound impact on agriculture, food issues are at the forefront.
July 7e, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa launched the Africa Green Revolution Forum and announced that it will be held in Kenya the first week of September. Over 10,000 participants are expected to participate again this year, most of them virtually.
Later this month, on July 26, the United Nations will host a pre-summit for the United Nations Food System Summit (FSS) to be held as part of the United Nations General Assembly in September. Dr. Agnes Kalibata will host both the African Forum and the FSS.
The goal of the FSS, requested by the Secretary-General in 2019, just before the COVID epidemic, will focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, “End hunger, achieve security food and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture â.
The challenges to achieving this goal in Africa and other developing regions of the world are very different from our challenge in the United States. In Africa, their yields represent only 10% of our yields, and not all small farmers still have access to certified hybrid seeds and necessary inputs.
Our challenge is quite different in the United States, but just as frustrating. One percent of our population produces all the food we need and we spend less than 10% of our disposable income on food. But millions of Americans are hungry. Our food programs are not reaching everyone who needs help. Our food banks are struggling to keep up with demand.
In short, we must do more and do it differently. President Nixon hosted a White House conference on food, nutrition, and health in 1969. This led to the creation of many current USDA food programs, as well as nutrition labeling.
We need a second White House conference to understand why people are hungry in America and how to update or restructure our food aid programs. The United States is generous with food aid, but something is wrong.
Food vouchers / SNAP must provide adequate benefits. The idea of ââadding benefits that can be used specifically for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a good idea. School meals are great, but the kids arrive at school on Mondays too hungry to concentrate. It was President Nixon who said in 1969: âA malnourished child is dull with curiosity, weaker in stamina, distracted from learning.
The summer food program does not reach children in need and it needs a framework or structure that allows for a nutritious meal. These are not easy challenges and could be addressed by a second White House conference.
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) has relentlessly led the call for a second White House conference. Former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) supports the idea of ââthe Conference. The House Appropriations Committee report included language calling on the OMB to hold a White House conference:
âHunger Conference – The Committee is increasingly concerned about rising levels of hunger in the United States and challenges related to the supply chain and delivery of nutritious food to underserved populations, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee orders 0MB to convene a conference on food, nutrition, hunger and health no later than 120 days after the enactment of this law, with the aim of developing a roadmap to end hunger and improve nutrition by 2030. The conference should be developed in consultation with federal, state and local authorities; experts in the fight against hunger, food supply and health care from across the country; and those who have lived through hunger. The conference is expected to examine why hunger persists and where gaps exist and develop interdepartmental strategies to end hunger. The conference is expected to examine the limits of the country’s food supply chain, advances in nutrition, and ways to improve health and reduce costs by ending hunger and improving access to nutritious food. The conference is also expected to examine how limited opportunities for economic mobility and other inequalities have contributed to hunger. The conference will produce a final report detailing its findings and proposed policy changes to end hunger and improve nutrition security nationwide by 2030. â
The United States is a strong supporter of the UN FSS. Now is the time to figure out how to implement the UN’s goal of ending hunger here at home and a second White Conference, under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, might be the right forum to help chart a plan. ‘action.
In memory of Gene White, a global leader in school nutrition
(Lois) Gene White, MS, SNS, passed away peacefully in Oak Harbor, Wash. On June 23, just six months away from his 100th birthday. Born small and sickly on December 23, 1921, in Pitsburg, Ohio, to Merlin and Olive Sando. Gene’s mother, a nurse, improvised an incubator in the heating oven of a wood-burning stove. Gene survived and dramatically survived to become a world leader in school nutrition. Gene was director of infant nutrition in California, president of the School Nutrition Association, and then founded and chaired the world famous Global Child Nutrition Foundation. She will be sorely missed.
Marshall Matz specializes in global food security at OFW Law in Washington, DC [email protected]
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