On September 12th, women leaders convene in Washington, D.C., to discuss "Rethinking Our Approach to Hunger," spotlighting the pressing issue of food and nutrition insecurity in the U.S. at the National Food Policy Conference during Hunger Action Month.
An estimated 34 million people in the U.S. face food insecurity, including over 9 million children. This crisis disproportionately affects Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous households. Food insecurity contributes to higher rates of diet-related diseases, developmental problems in children, and poor overall health. The causes of food insecurity are complex, including low wages, lack of childcare, and systemic racism.
Dr. Caree Cotwright, Director of Nutrition Security and Health Equity at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will moderate the panel, featuring key voices: Tambra Raye Stevenson of Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA), Nancy Dalton from Amazon, and Rucha Gadre of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
“Part of my role at USDA is celebrating all the work of our partners to help us achieve the historic White House Conference goals to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities," says Dr. Caree Cotwright, Director of Nutrition Security and Health Equity at USDA. "But to reach these ambitious goals, my role also includes challenging each of us to do better, together. While we are excited about the progress we also know we need to do more. I am excited to moderate today’s panel to re-think our approach to hunger and explore innovative ways state governments, the private sector, and non-government organizations are tackling food and nutrition insecurity.”
Thomas Gremillion of the Consumer Federation of America notes the discussion's timeliness amidst surging food prices and diminished hunger aid. "With food insecurity rising amid higher food prices and discontinued hunger assistance, this discussion at the 46th Annual National Food Policy Conference could not be more timely," said Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at the Consumer Federation of America. "How is it that tens of millions of people, including millions of children, do not have enough to eat in the wealthiest nation on earth? The problem is too big for the government, the private sector, or civil society alone to solve. The range of perspectives that Nancy, Caree, Rucha, and Tambra present will start an important conversation that lasts well beyond September 12."
Panelist Tambra Raye Stevenson, MPH, MA, CEO of WANDA, advocates for a "Food Bill of Rights," emphasizes the role of women, democracy, and technology in ensuring nutrition security as part of national security.
"To rethink hunger in America, we have to rethink our investments in the people, policies, and programs to achieve a truly nutrition-secure nation," emphasized Tambra Raye Stevenson, Founder and CEO of WANDA. "That’s why we invest in women and girls to educate our families, leverage technology to innovate, and set policy agendas that include a Food Bill of Rights to advocate for sustainable communities."
Rucha Gadre, Food Security Director of NJEDA highlights the economic roots of food insecurity, tying it to low wages and systemic barriers that disadvantage specific communities. Commitment to fund programs ensuring access to quality food remains a priority for her organization.
“Food insecurity has economic root causes. It’s been linked to low wages, adverse social and economic conditions, limited access to healthy foods, and many other factors contributing to disadvantaging certain neighborhoods,” says Rucha Gadre, Food Security Director, New Jersey Economic Development Agency. “The NJEDA is committed to fighting food insecurity and fund programs that will help ensure fresh, healthy, and affordable food is accessible and available in every community across the state of NJ.”
Amazon's Nancy Dalton, Head of Marketing and Community Partnerships, underscores the need to address the root causes of hunger, calling for robust collaboration across sectors.
“To effectively address hunger, we must start with the root causes of hunger, which span across the social determinants of health. Sustainable solutions require strong public and private collaboration and community engagement,” says Nancy Dalton, Head of Marketing and Community Partnerships at Amazon. “This is why Amazon Access launched a grassroots program to listen and learn – to gather perspectives from customers in all different communities across the country. This feedback has become central to the design of our products and services, like payment with nationwide SNAP EBT acceptance. It positions us to amplify the reach and impact of community-based organizations advocating for access to healthy, affordable food in the communities we serve.”
With hunger issues becoming more pressing, this panel aims to set the stage for innovative solutions and actionable change.
About Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture:
Founded in 2016, Women and Girls Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. WANDA is dedicated to empowering women and girls of African descent to become food sheroes in their communities through education, advocacy, and innovation. To learn more, visit iamwanda.org.
About the Consumer Federation of America:
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations established in 1968 to advance consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization’s Board of Directors. CFA is a research, advocacy, education, and service organization.
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