Feedback on the Upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

| By: Rachel Gershon, Senior Policy Manager

Here is a brief summary of our recommendation submitted to the White House in preparation for the September 28, 2022 Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

We applaud the Biden administration for hosting the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, with the goal of ending hunger and increasing nutrition by 2030. Access to food is essential to physical and psychological health, with food insecurity leading to negative ripple effects across a person's lifetime. A nation that cannot address hunger will face the consequences, including increased morbidity and mortality, higher health care costs, heightened disparities, and lower trust in government.

Given the power of the public benefits to address hunger, nutrition, and health, the White House Conference is a major opportunity for the Biden administration to make public benefits efficient, effective government services that people rely on.

For years, public benefits policy has prioritized preventing fraud and abuse over promoting efficient, effectiveness, or equity. This has exacerbated rather than reduced racial and other inequities. As a result, benefits are hard to access and use, with more than $60 billion in assistance going untapped annually, and millions of children, older adults, veterans, and families needlessly going hungry. Government agencies collect the same information and documentation repeatedly and enforce archaic rules that prevent eligible people from receiving assistance. Given advances in data and technology, the Biden administration has the opportunity to advance true program integrity that prevents fraud and abuse and ensures that eligible people receive assistance efficiently and equitably. It will require policies based on the lived experience of people accessing benefits.

These comments spell out specific steps that the federal government can take to advance true program integrity, leveraging public benefits in order to end hunger, improve nutrition, and improve health by 2030.

To read BDT's full response, click here.