According to federal officials, about 10% of US households were food insecure in 2021.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that his administration’s goal to end hunger in the United States by the end of the decade is ambitious but doable if the nation works together to achieve it.

“I know we can do it,” Biden told an audience full of health officials, private companies and hungry Americans. They were collected for the first time White House Conference on Hunger, nutrition and health since 1969.

He was the most optimistic president ever, envisioning a future in which no child in the U.S. goes hungry and diet-related diseases are reduced thanks to better, healthier food alternatives and access to the great outdoors.

“That’s why we’re here today, to use our greatest resource: our fellow Americans,” Biden said. “Everyone has an important role.”

The 1969 conference, hosted by President Richard Nixon, was a pivotal moment that influenced the US food policy agenda for 50 years. This led to a significant expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, and gave rise to “Women, Infants and Children” program.which serves half of the babies born in the US by providing their mothers with parenting advice, breastfeeding support and nutritional assistance.

However, 10% of US households were food insecure in 2021, meaning they were not sure they would be able to get enough food to feed themselves or their families because they lacked money or resources on food, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Scientific advances have helped Americans better understand how the foods they eat contribute to disease. One of the administration’s goals is to reduce obesity and diet-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension by better promoting healthy eating, good nutrition and physical activity.

Some of the conference participants experienced hunger. Jimiko Mills, co-founder of Equitable Spaces, a non-profit organization that connects those working to fight hunger with people who have experienced hunger, said it was a “historic opportunity for us to learn directly from those affected.”

She talked about growing up and experiencing first-hand the effects of poverty, hunger and homelessness.

“I know what it’s like not knowing where your next meal is going to come from,” she said, adding that she wanted a solution so that no one in “the country with the richest food system in the world ever goes hungry again.”

Before it began, the administration released a list of more than $8 billion in commitments from private companies, charitable foundations and industry groups. These range from direct donations to in-kind service contributions and include:

— Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk will commit $20 million to improve access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity in marginalized communities.

— A $3.85 million commitment from grocery store chain Publix to deliver food to local food banks and create free mobile pantries.

— $22 million from food company Danone to fund a program to help “at least 300 million Americans develop healthier eating habits.”

— Meijer’s commitment to offer discounts of up to 10% to encourage SNAP users to buy fruits and vegetables.

While Biden touts a successful campaign for buy-in from the private sector, some of the strongest potential obstacles to his proposals lie in an increasingly partisan Congress.

Proposed policy changes include expanding SNAP eligibility, expanding access to free school meals, and extending summer meal benefits to more school children. All of these changes would require congressional approval.

The president called on Congress to also revive and make permanent the expanded child tax credit that had expired. After that, the number of children in America living in poverty increased dramatically just one month without the extended child tax credit.

“Achieving our bold goals requires a whole-of-government approach … and the efforts of all of society,” he said.

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