President Biden set a goal of ending hunger by 2030 with a stable of public-private partnerships, but some hunger relief organization leaders wonder if the goal is too ambitious.
The goal was announced during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health held recently in Washington D.C. Along with the goal, a national strategy was released with five pillars: improving food access and affordability; integrating nutrition and health; empowering all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices; supporting physical activity for all, and enhancing nutrition and food security research.
“For so many families—including families of color, those living in rural communities and territories, and low-income families—structural inequality, such as disparities in educational and economic opportunities and lack of access to health care, safe housing, and transportation, make the impact of hunger and diet-related diseases even more severe,” Biden wrote in the strategy introduction. “The pandemic made these problems worse, reinforcing the need for urgent, sustained action.”
Noreen Springstead, executive director of the anti-hunger organization WhyHunger, said ending hunger by 2030 is a “tall order” and the strategy has several points that the organization agrees with.
“However, it’s still hard to tell if the intention for transformational change matches the strategy, and how the plan will move into action and most importantly accountability,” Springstead said in a statement to the Daily Yonder.
“There is a lot to be excited about in the plan – from the call for wage increases and worker protection to investments in local and regional food and farm economies, and yet there is so much more needed to ensure nutritious food is a human right and the broader transformation of our food system. We cannot end hunger without concrete steps to address racial, economic and social injustice at its roots.”
In terms of how the strategy will affect rural and tribal communities, Springstead noted the expansion of the summer EBT program and SNAP benefits as well as progress toward a university school meal program. She added, however, that there was not enough mention of Indigenous People and Tribal Nations beyond the Food Distribution Program and funding for Indigenous Food Hubs at schools and institutions on American Indian Reservations.
“Calls for the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, an increase to the minimum wage and more support for workers – especially those across the food chain – and their rights to collectively bargain is important,” she said. “The calls for more investment via grants and financial assistance to support local and regional food and farm businesses and technical assistance particularly in support of underserved communities to provide nutritious food to schools, food banks, and other nutrition assistance programs, feels like an important step in the right direction especially for rural communities.”
During the conference, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., said the U.S. Department of Agriculture should allow traditional foods grown and raised on the reservation to be provided through the federal food program. The traditional foods are often healthier sources of nutrition for citizens and can prevent further health disparities among the Tribal population, he said.
He also called for Tribal Nations to have flexibility in using their own drought monitors as part of the Livestock Forage Program.
“Northeast Oklahoma has experienced record heat waves and brutal weather conditions that livestock and pasture lands cannot sustain for weeks at a time,” Hoskin said in a statement. “Cherokee Nation is uniquely situated to evaluate and determine the needs of Cherokee producers. As a tribal government, we are aware of the evolving and pressing needs of our citizens. The U.S. Drought Monitor alone is an insufficient measure of the needs of Cherokee producers.”