With congressional reauthorizations of the Child Nutrition programs and the Farm Bill coming up, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, has launched the Food and Nutrition Security Task Force to boost access to healthy foods and diet quality for all Americans. Helming the year-long effort are co-chairs Dan R. Glickman and Ann M. Veneman, former Agriculture Secretaries; José Andrés, chef and founder of the humanitarian food relief nonprofit World Central Kitchen; and Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Virginia-based FMI — The Food Industry Association.
Among the task force’s members are:
- Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO, Feeding America
- Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation
- Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO, National WIC Association
- Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center
- Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Ph.D., Dean, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
- Tom Stenzel, President and CEO, United Fresh Produce Association
The aims of the task force will be to assess both legislative and administrative policy opportunities and put out recommendations that will 1) improve food and nutrition security amid COVID-19 and the economic recovery; 2) bolster Child Nutrition programs, including the Child Nutrition Reauthorization; and 3) improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food assistance programs, including through the Farm Bill. The group will also generate ideas for public- and private-sector collaboration to address food and nutrition security.
This year, an estimated 42 million Americans, including 13 million children, are at risk of food insecurity, while at the same time, the United States is dealing with rising obesity rates.
“There is an urgent need to develop solutions to address both food and nutrition security in the context of COVID-19 and beyond,” noted Glickman, a BPC senior fellow. “Poor nutrition and diet-related diseases and conditions, such as obesity, lead to poor health outcomes and higher health care costs. Our aim is to design solutions that not only help Americans get enough calories, but also the right kind of calories. A commitment to health equity will also be central to the task force’s recommendations.”
“Supporting the health and well-being of children and families must be a priority,” said Veneman. “Our task force seeks to inform federal policy that will address the long-term health, educational and economic impact of food and nutrition insecurity throughout the country. This is a crisis that can’t wait.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the gaps in our collective ability to combat nutrition insecurity as millions of American families have gone without enough to eat,” observed Andrés. “Now more than ever, we must seek bold solutions that bring the power of the federal government together with the nonprofit and private sectors to end hunger and make food an opportunity to create a better tomorrow. I am proud to co-lead this critical effort.”
“FMI and its members representing the business of food — wherever it is bought, sold or produced — recognize the important role we play in ensuring access to affordable, safe, and healthy foods for all Americans,” noted Sarasin. “We look forward to working with leaders across all sectors to identify innovative policy solutions to eliminate food insecurity — one of America’s leading challenges.”
Over the coming year, the task force will hold several public events and release a series of policy briefs with recommendations.