PHI Statement on Biden/Harris National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition & Health

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Statement from Matthew Marsom, Senior Vice President of Programs, Public Policy and Government Relations

“Today, at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, the Biden/Harris administration released a comprehensive, bold agenda to address hunger, nutrition and health across the United States. The strategies proposed by the federal administration are sustainable and effective: they are grounded in research, focused on equity, and address the systemic causes of hunger, poor nutrition and diet-related chronic disease.

“The White House agenda acknowledges the upstream issues that contribute to food security, especially accessibility and affordability. It calls for addressing poverty by increasing the minimum wage, fully funding the childcare tax credit and expanding the earned income tax credit. It also underscores the role of culturally rooted practices as a critical piece of accessibility, including investing in a nutrition workforce that looks like, and comes from the communities it serves.

“PHI has worked for decades to build a stronger food system, to ensure that every family has healthy, appealing and affordable food at every meal. We appreciate the recognition given in the strategy to SNAP nutrition education as a vital part of accessible nutrition. California feeds the world, and our state serves as a pioneer in implementing practices and policies that are good for farmworkers, good for farmers, good for business and good for families.

“Our priorities include food as medicine, such as our Healthy Food Rx work; strategies to make food accessible and affordable through healthy food incentive programs, built on models like California’s Market Match program, created through the leadership of PHI’s Roots of Change; expanding incentives for fruit and vegetables in SNAP, and implementing front-of-package nutrition labeling for consumers. The incorporation of climate change into these strategies is a landmark acknowledgment of the impact that higher temperatures and shifting climate patterns, along with disasters like wildfire, flood, displacement of populations and drought will have on food availability and affordability. We look forward to including the health and safety of farmworkers as an integral part of all health, workforce, equity, and food system strategies.

“PHI is committed to contributing our expertise and research to support. Food security is a bipartisan issue, but the challenge will be making sure our country has the political will to move this ambitious agenda forward. Congress must act—quickly, with full funding, and without compromise.”

Learn More: See PHI’s Work on Food Security, Hunger & Nutrition:

  • Piloting a “Produce RX” Model: Our Center for Wellness and Nutrition’s Healthy Food Rx project is piloting a “Food as Medicine” model to support better outcomes for people living with diabetes in Stockton, CA—focusing on five priority low-income neighborhoods that are generally underserved by community services and lacking in amenities, like easy access to affordable and fresh healthy food and convenient public transportation. The program prescribes food boxes of healthy, culturally tailored, home-delivered meals in collaboration with the Stockton Emergency Food Bank, twice per month for six months. Participants also receive virtual nutrition education and cooking classes in English and Spanish. Learn more about our CWN.
  • Transforming CA’s Local Meat Systems for Health, Equity & Resiliency: PHI’s Roots of Change is working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, farmers, ranchers, processors, UC Cooperative Extension experts and others to analyze and develop food supply chains with the aim of improving resilience, social equity and rural economic health. They are currently developing two high value meat supply chains serving small- and mid-size producers and their processors, and work with producers, processors and buyers to bring high quality meat from farm and ranches, processed locally, to Bay Area and Sacramento Metro markets. Learn more about the project.
  • Study: What Works in Boosting Food Security During the Pandemic: Research from PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition shows that increases in food assistance programs implemented by the California Department of Social Services during the COVID-19 pandemic helped decrease food insecurity for low-income Californians. The study, published in the CDC’s “Preventing Chronic Disease” showed that despite the pandemic, very low food security for low-income California families dropped by 5 percentage points between April and July 2020—a 28% reduction from the pre-pandemic period, coinciding with enhancements in state and federal food assistance programs. See the press release.
  • Getting $22M in Food & Vouchers Cards to Those Most in Need: In 2020, PHI joined LA County and its partners to distribute nearly $22 million in food benefits to nearly 30,000 households or individuals in a period of just a few months, during the pandemic. PHI’s Roots of Change, the Center for Wellness and Nutrition and strategic partner Wholesome Wave worked with LA County, local governments, grocery stores and 19 local community-based groups to reach those who did not qualify for other food benefits and brought $12 million in purchases to local grocery stores. Surveys of food voucher recipients showed an overall 14.7% reduction in self-reports of food insecurity following receipt of the vouchers. Read the impact story and report.
  • Supporting SNAP Shoppers in Accessing Fresh, Local Produce: Since 2018, PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition has partnered with the California Department of Social Services CalFresh Healthy Living program and State Nutrition Action Council to incubate the Farmers Market Initiative (FMI). FMI uses a culturally appropriate social marketing campaign to increase awareness of fruit and vegetable incentives by using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at participating farmers’ markets in 10 high need counties across the state. The campaign was coupled with on-site activities implemented by bi-lingual, bicultural food navigators to create a welcoming space to address known barriers to shopping among low-income populations at farmers markets, including lack of knowledge and lack of comfort with using food assistance benefits. The results include a year over year increase in redemption of SNAP benefits at 41 participating markets. In 2021, incentives redemption increased on average by 42% monthly, with higher redemption seen at markets with a food navigator. Learn more.
  • Report: SNAP-Ed Provides Critical Nutrition Support During COVID-19 & Beyond: The USDA’s SNAP-Ed programs provide nutrition education for low-income people across the country and effectively reaches them through education, social marketing and healthy community policies, systems and environmental (PSE) changes. A study from PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition found SNAP-Ed state and local implementing agencies in the US Southeast Region were able to quickly pivot to meet the needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collectively, they reached more than 1.1 million people with PSE changes primarily focused on healthy food access. Healthy food access was achieved through home and community garden projects and partnerships with food distribution sites like food banks and farmers markets. Other adaptations that proved successful included the development of digital resources, moving education classes online and maintaining and expanding partnerships. See the study.

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