Children’s Hospitals Call For Focus on Kids at White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, invited representatives from children’s hospitals raised the need to prioritize children whose ability to meet their full potential depends on access to healthy and nutritious food. One in eight children, more than nine million, are at risk of hunger, with Black and Latino children disproportionately affected by food insecurity.
Representing children’s hospitals nationally, Mark Wietecha, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association, says, “We are excited to be at the table for the administration’s unveiling of its national strategy to address the intersections between food, hunger, nutrition and health. Children’s hospitals around the country are working to reduce food insecurity in their communities through screening families for food insecurity, partnering with area food banks for onsite or offsite food distribution, enrolling families in SNAP and WIC, serving as USDA summer meal program sites, implementing food pharmacies or Food as Medicine programs, hosting community gardens and more. We look forward to helping the administration implement national strategies that work for kids.”
Representing Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Ihuoma Eneli, MD, director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition, adds, “Like many children’s hospitals serving large geographical areas, Nationwide Children’s Hospital partners with organizations across our region to help children and families adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors early in life. We are committed to supporting system and individual level anti-hunger and nutrition strategies that reduce disparities and support all children to thrive.”
“Nemours has the opportunity to care for children in multiple states, and in both urban and rural areas,” said R. Lawrence Moss, MD, president and CEO of Nemours Children’s Health. “Food insecurity in America’s children is a national issue and demands our attention. Food insecure children face increased short- and long-term health risks that limit their potential. Nemours applauds the White House’s leadership and looks forward to working with partners across the nation to help address these disparities and create the healthiest generations of children.”
On the policy front, children’s hospitals recommend the following changes to the administration that would enhance the impact of its national strategy:
- Streamline the enrollment process and fund community-based navigators for programs such as SNAP and WIC.
- Revise eligibility requirements for participation in the USDA summer meals program, for both sites and individuals, to improve access to food for children when they are out of school.
- Provide sustainable funding for nutrition education and food distribution programs following the Food is Medicine model.
The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health takes place on Sept. 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C.