President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., last September. File photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
March 24 (UPI) -- The White House has announced the launch of a nationwide initiative to fight hunger and curtail an epidemic of diet-related diseases through the next decade.
The "Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities" calls on U.S. companies to adopt new food labeling, substitute ingredients and consumer guidance as part of an effort to improve diet and health, and reduce hunger in America by 2030, the White House said in a statement on the next phase of the previously announced program.
The latest action comes amid increased efforts to reduce the heavy toll of diabetes, hypertension and obesity that has plagued the health of U.S. citizens for generations.
As part of the plan, the administration will issue new recommendations for food manufacturers "on how and when they can use Dietary Guidance Statements on food labels to help inform consumers about their products and how they can contribute to a nutritious diet," the White House said.
The plan includes a proposal to lower the amount of sodium in the food supply and open the door for manufacturers to use salt substitutes in products known for high sodium content, like cheeses and canned goods.
The initiative will be funded through $8 billion in private and public dollars that were announced in September 2022 following the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which has now led to the national strategy to address hunger and malnutrition.
Since the conference, health experts have sought to coordinate a national response to eliminate the root causes of food insecurity -- a basic problem that affects the health of millions of Americans every day.
In the first federal effort to address food insecurity in more than 50 years, the White House previously laid out five guiding principles that will "help secure a healthier future for all Americans" by integrating nutrition and health.
At the federal level, this would be done by taking such steps as working with Congress to pilot coverage of medically tailored meals in Medicare; and expanding Medicaid and Medicare enrollees' access to nutrition and obesity counseling.
More broadly, the program seeks to improve food access and affordability by supporting school food programs and ensuring kids have meals during summer when classes are out. The plan also calls for involving community members in the future rollout of federal food assistance programs.
The plan will invest in health-related social needs, including nutrition services and increased screenings for food insecurity. Health professionals will also receive federal guidance on helping patients eat healthier and exercise. Money will also be used to create new opportunities for physical activity in schools and public spaces.
The plan emphasizes healthier meal choices by seeking to expand the market for natural foods while providing funding for local food procurement, the White House said.
The program will also provide funding for research efforts to address food insecurity.
The president's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition -- led by by Chef José Andrés and Elena Delle Donne -- will also help to bring more companies, philanthropic organizations, and non-profit groups into the fold.
The initiative relies heavily upon investments from the private sector, with several major U.S. entities already signed on to the ambitious effort.
DoorDash is planning to expand the availability of healthier options on its platform over the next two years by partnering with grocery stores across the United States.
Instacart plans to use its technology to promote better food choices through the use of virtual food pharmacies at several major health facilities nationwide.
Dohmen Company Foundation will invest $60 million for charitable giving and public awareness campaigns, while KABOOM! is forming a multiyear partnership to build at least 30 new playgrounds in disadvantaged communities.