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Reflections on the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, & Health

October 11, 2022

Last week, President Biden hosted the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. It was the first of its kind in more than 50 years, bringing together anti-hunger advocates and community leaders with lived expertise from across the country, including California.

We were thrilled to be able to support Jacqueline Benitez, a preschool teacher and college student studying early childhood education at Cerritos College, in attending the conference. 

As a preschool teacher, Jacqueline understands the importance of kids having access to free school meals, and she feels fortunate that California has implemented free school meals for all starting this school year. Now she wants to see it expanded and implemented nationwide so that no child experiences the impact of hunger.

Jacqueline also reflected on the fact that 50 years ago, at the last national conference on hunger, people with direct lived experience of hunger were not invited to participate. She shared how powerful it was to be in conversation with other people who have experienced hunger, and for all of them to have the opportunity to tell their stories to elected officials and policy makers in the heart of Washington, D.C. 

“When I first started experiencing homelessness and hunger, I had no idea that people were doing advocacy on the issues I was facing. Food insecurity affects everyone in one way or another, but no human should have to go hungry. We have more than enough food to sustain everyone. 

“I really hope that President Biden follows through on what he said — that we’re going to end hunger by 2030. It’s our job to make sure he sticks to his promise. And I want people who are struggling today to know that there are lots of advocates out there fighting for them.” — Jacqueline Benitez

CAFB is heartened by President Biden’s recommendations announced at the Conference, which include many policy solutions the anti-hunger community has been championing for years, including school meals for all, Summer EBT, expanding SNAP to college students and formerly incarcerated individuals, and permanently ending discriminatory able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) time limit rules. The strategy also includes broader economic policies to address the root cause of hunger by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, extending and expanding the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, and investing in housing and rental assistance.

We are grateful to our California Congressmembers who have been leading the way on critical bills like the EATS Act (H.R. 1919) by Rep. Jimmy Gomez, and the Improving Access to Nutrition Act (H.R. 1753) by Rep. Barbara Lee. Access to food is a basic human right and we look forward to making this right a reality across the country through bold national policy solutions.

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