By Stacy Dean, FNCS Deputy Under Secretary
One year after the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health held on Sept. 28, 2022, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service continues accelerating progress on the conference’s goals to end hunger, improve healthy eating and physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities.
Leaders in the food, nutrition, and healthcare spaces, including people with lived experience and expertise in food and nutrition insecurity, came together in 2022 to build on the foundational work of our predecessors who convened 50 years earlier at the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. It was inspiring to build partnerships that will propel a new generation of actions to end hunger and reduce diet-related disease. With the National Strategy as our guide, FNS developed a report of how we would carry out this mission and build on the momentum of the conference. Here are some examples of what we’ve achieved in just this past year:
Pillar 1: Improve Food Access and Affordability
- FNS provided extensive assistance to schools to continue and expand service of nutritious and appealing meals, including $1.2 billion in Supply Chain Assistance funds and an additional $30 million in grant funds to help school districts across the country purchase equipment needed to prepare and serve nutritious meals that meet USDA’s nutrition requirements and make it easier for schools to prepare fresh foods.
- Online shopping with SNAP benefits is now available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with nearly 4 million SNAP households shopping online in August 2023.
- FNS is working closely with its state and tribal partners to stand up a new Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer Program that provides summer grocery benefits to families whose children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. We estimate that when fully implemented, the program could serve more than 29 million children and provide more than $3.5 billion in benefits each year.
- FNS is modernizing WIC and the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program through several initiatives designed to increase participation, retention, benefit redemption, and advance equity.
- FNS awarded nearly $100 million in The Emergency Food Assistance Program Reach and Resiliency grants to expand the program’s reach in underserved remote, rural, tribal, and/or low-income areas, and an additional $10 million to support Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Self-Determination Demonstration Projects, providing 16 tribal nations the ability to enter into their own contracts for some of the foods offered in the program to incorporate more traditional foods that better align with dietary preferences.
Pillar 2: Integrate Nutrition and Health
- FNS hosted its first National Nutrition Security and Healthcare Summit weeks after the historic White House Conference, drawing more than 200 healthcare, federal, and community leader attendees. In the months since, FNS has been working with ProMedica and The Root Cause Coalition on their seven regional summits. Collectively, these summits have identified ways to strengthen intersections between federal nutrition assistance programs and the healthcare sector.
Pillar 3: Empower All Consumers to Make and Have Access to Healthy Choices
- FNS is centralizing consumer information to support healthy shopping and meal prep for income-eligible households in the Shop Simple with MyPlate app and recently expanded MyPlate’s social media presence to Instagram to reach more audiences with healthy eating tips and information.
Pillar 4: Support Physical Activity for All
- FNS continues to share physical activity resources on the SNAP-Ed Connection website and the SNAP-Ed e-bulletins. The website provides tips and information from federal, state, and local agencies and allows users to search the redesigned SNAP-Ed Library for educational materials and success stories.
Pillar 5: Enhance Nutrition and Food Security Research
- FNS is currently studying or preparing to study several topics to inform the next reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, or TFP, to include a study to understand if it is feasible to purchase healthy foods that meet dietary guidelines with SNAP benefits; a series of systematic reviews of various topics, including food waste, scaling the TFP for different family sizes and types, and updated food price data; and studying alternative models to calculate the TFP.
- FNS is leveraging cooperative agreements to study barriers to equitable access and opportunities to expand participation in the Child Nutrition Programs, as well as state and local efforts to improve maternal morbidity and mortality through WIC.
To learn more about our accomplishments, please review our updated fact sheet. And we are not done yet! With your help, we hope to continue carving a path toward a future where all children and families are nourished, thriving, and ready to shape the world.