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The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Heath took place this week, designed to address food insecurity in the nation, and Albertsons, FMI-The Food Industry Association, and the National Grocers Association (NGA)_ all released statements in which they made commitments going forward.

•  Albertsons said that "it will contribute new goals and initiatives designed to help break the cycle of hunger and empower nutrition and health through technology and information."

The company said that "Nourishing Neighbors, a program of Albertsons Companies Foundation, seeks to ensure at-risk youth, adults, seniors and families have access to the food they need to lead healthier and more enriching lives. Through Nourishing Neighbors, more than $200 million has been donated to hunger relief organizations since 2011 and the company has pledged the following commitments to reduce food insecurity:  Enable the donation of over 100 million meals in 2023 and 1 billion meals by 2030," and "help 50,000 eligible neighbors enroll in SNAP and WIC benefits in 2023."

In addition to offering online SNAP access and educational information in stores, the company said, "Nourishing Neighbors will provide grants to local food banks, soup kitchens and community organizations so they can conduct outreach and provide SNAP and WIC enrollment support for neighbors in need."

Albertsons also said it would "provide 50 million evidence-based nutrition recommendations to digital customers by 2024 to help them make healthier choices … Launch six health campaigns by 2025 utilizing in-store events and digital platforms to increase awareness of MyPlate Dietary Guidelines, established by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion … Provide 100 million customers access to recipe and meal planning tools by 2025, empowering them to easily select, cook and enjoy meals that match their taste, budget and dietary needs … Introduce 1,000 new nutritious and approachable recipes, and further enhance tools to help make healthier living an easy and sustainable choice … (and) Expand the availability of ReadyMeals from 600 to 1,100 stores by the end of the fiscal year. ReadyMeals offer nutritious meals designed by culinary experts and dietitians made fresh in-store every day."

"Our purpose is to bring people together around the joys of food and to inspire well-being. A part of that promise is improving food access while providing tools that integrate nutrition and health information across our grocery stores and digital platforms,” said Vivek Sankaran, CEO of Albertsons Cos. “We are proud to announce these commitments, which complement our Recipe for Change ESG platform and reflect our deep roots serving communities across America.”

•  Specifically, over the next two years, NGA said it "will assist with improving access to grocery stores across the country by working to increase the number of grocery retailers authorized for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) online purchases with a prioritization on rural areas and areas with low food access, and creating a toolkit with a list of resources and funding opportunities to support the expansion of full-service grocery stores in designated food deserts. 

"Across the nation, independent grocers and wholesalers serve as the cornerstone of their communities, providing access to nutritious food, essential services, and creating jobs,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. “As the supermarket industry continues to evolve and innovate, NGA and our members are committed to preserving the longstanding, strong public-private partnerships with federal and state nutrition programs, and enhancing capabilities to reach and serve all Americans." 

NGA noted that "the Biden administration released a national strategic plan to effectively end hunger in the United States and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030. Included within the proposal were several key policies supported by NGA to address underserved communities, including the enforcement of antitrust laws with a focus on economic discrimination in the food retail marketplace, and prioritization for economic development funds to expand food access."

•  FMI also announced its "ambitious commitments:" 

"FMI members will donate more than 2 billion meals in 2023, with the goal of increasing food donations to food banks and other organizations that support nourishing communities … will commit to robust investment in programs, initiatives, infrastructure enhancements and partnerships to improve food availability in areas of limited food access … will expand access to and leverage federal feeding programs and Food as Medicine programs in the food retail setting that include nutrient-dense foods … will share evidence-based messages and educational tools for consumers in 2023 to support healthy eating patterns that align with the Dietary Guidelines and federal nutrition guidance."

Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI's president/CEO, said:  “The food industry has a critical role to play in addressing hunger and helping to improve the nutrition and health of all Americans. Grocery stores serve as accessible, convenient, community-based destinations for feeding assistance, preventive care, nutrition guidance, and nourishing, practical meal solutions. It will take all of us working together to achieve these goals; I have full confidence in the food industry’s spirit of innovation and collaboration to not only reach these goals, but far exceed them."

KC's View:

A quote worth sharing…

“Food is national security. Food is economy. It is employment, energy, history. Food is everything.”  — Chef José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen

And another one, from Aristotle, which acknowledges the connection between hunger and poverty, and the underlying threat the comes from both:

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”