For the first time in nearly half a century, the White House will be hosting a Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. Given high rates of chronic, diet-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as the fact that millions of Americans suffer from hunger, the Biden-Harris administration aims to gather experts to spearhead equitable solutions. 

As the White House explains on their website, “The toll of hunger and these diseases is not distributed equally, disproportionately impacting underserved communities, including Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans, low-income families, and rural Americans. Lack of access to healthy and affordable foods is one of many factors impacting hunger and diet-related diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges further.” 

The ambitious goal of the conference is to: “End hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, so that fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.” To meet this goal will require a concerted, collaborative effort from public and private sectors to accelerate progress and drive transformative change in the U.S. to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and close disparities surrounding them.

To help guide the focus of the conference, the White House invited experts and members of the public to participate in Partner-Led Convenings to receive input to aid in the development and implementation of a national strategy on hunger, nutrition, and health. 

Bringing Together Perspectives for Change

PBFA and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities College of Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine (HBCU-PLM) convened a workshop on June 30th, 2022 for PBFA members and affiliates, partner organizations, and the HBCU-PLM network of medical professionals. 

Plant-based foods are a rapidly growing sector of the food and beverage industry, and retail data shows that the primary reason shoppers choose plant-based food products is for their personal health. The community of medical professionals who promote health equity and practice plant-based lifestyle medicine aim to address the interconnected issues of health disparities disproportionately affecting Black communities, lack of education regarding plant-based diets and making lifestyle changes, and lack of clinics and healthcare professionals on historically Black college campuses. 

By bringing together PBFA’s food industry insights and HBCU-CPLM’s health and nutrition expertise, we offer in this report innovative thinking on ways to achieve the goals of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

During our convening, we addressed three Pillars that define the scope of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health: Improving food access and affordability, integrating nutrition and health, and empowering all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices. Participants of this convening included industry leaders, medical professionals, investors, and researchers. 

While the discussions were in-depth and varied, showcasing the expertise of each actively engaged participant, a few key themes surfaced in the various breakout sessions:

  1. The role of plant-based diets in improving nutrition and reducing diet-related disease 
  2. The role of land use in hindering better nutrition
  3. The importance of equity in food and health systems

Participants also outlined key actions that the U.S. Federal government, including the Executive Branch and Congress, could take to address these challenges and provide a pathway to improved health, education, and access to plant-based foods. 

To read the detailed report with takeaways from PBFA and HBCU College of PLM’s Partner-Led Convening, click here. 

The federal government has an important role to play in bringing nutritious foods to Americans. From government feeding programs and military installations to healthcare and schools, this conference offers the opportunity to re-align nutrition, diets, and cultures for a healthier future.

We look forward to collaborating with policymakers and members of our plant-based community to continue this conversation and identify research and opportunities where we can help enable a shift to a plant-based food system that benefits people, planet, and animals in a regenerative, sustainable, and equitable manner.