Hunger, Nutrition, & Health: A Playlist Inspired by The 2022 White House Conference

By: Anne Sherrick

It’s been more than 50 years since the first White House Hunger, Nutrition, & Health Conference. In the last half-century, food accessibility, quality of nutrition, and diet-related health impacts have become urgent concerns. The 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, & Health presented an important platform to discuss solutions on a national level, affecting the future of food in the U.S. in the short and long term.

Reflecting on the speakers and findings presented at the conference, we revisit episodes discussing different aspects and intersections of food insecurity, policy, and nutrition. Tune into our playlist diving into the hunger, nutrition, and health crisis from all angles.

Meat and Three Episode 137: A Year In Food Policy: Sovereignty, Security, and Sustainability: With the future of food policy looking murky, we turn to experts in the field to help us understand the realities of the bureaucracy surrounding food security, farming rights, and pesticide regulation. We speak to scientists whose research influences the policy we see on the congressional floor. We hear from nonprofits working to navigate the endless maze of food assistance programs and advocate for those on the receiving end and we break down the legislation influencing the future of food sovereignty in the U.S.

What Doesn’t Kill You Episode 364: Explosive Report on How the FDA Is Failing Our Food System: Investigative reporter Helena Bottemiller-Evich digs deep into the many ways the FDA, supposedly monitoring our food supply, abjectly fails to adequately monitor and regulate basic products like baby formula, the water used to process vegetables and fruits, and forever chemicals in food packaging. Every year more than 128,000 people are made sick from food-borne illnesses, while over 3000 people die. The U.S. lags far behind other developed nations in maintaining a safe, inspected food supply.

A Taste of the Past Episode 346: Poison Squad: Founding of the FDA: Technology and industry put more food on the shelves and in markets by extending the life of perishable goods with canning and processing methods. But was the food safe? By the late 19th century, the American food supply was rife with frauds, fakes, and deadly chemicals. It affected everything from milk and beef, black pepper, and mustard to candy, whiskey, and soda. It took one man, Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, chief chemist of the USDA, his entire career to campaign for food safety and consumer protection, and the ultimate creation of the Food and Drug Act in 1906. Award-winning writer and science journalist Deborah Blum talks about the stories and struggles to safe food in her book, The Poison Squad, which is also a PBS documentary.

The Big Food Question Episode 10: Why are USDA Waivers Crucial to School Lunch Programs?: As millions of kids returned to school over the past month, one of the biggest questions was how to provide nutritious meals to them. It’s become an even bigger problem as many school systems began the year with fully-remote schedules. To understand the role that recently extended USDA waivers play in making food accessible for students, Kat Johnson turns to Jessica Fu, Staff Writer at The Counter.

Eating Matters Episode 146: A School Food Hero: Veteran nutrition director Betti Wiggins has been working for almost 30 years to improve school food for children in urban areas. She has been credited with making enormous changes to the quality of school meals served at Detroit Public Schools and is now leading the Houston Independent School District’s nutrition services department, responsible for feeding over 200,000 students every day with ~ $1.00 to spend on food per meal. Through her conversation with host Jenna Liut, you will quickly learn why she is widely regarded as a "school food hero."

Meat and Three Episode 135: Community Responses to Food Insecurity: From Fridges to Farmers Markets: Food insecurity in the U.S. is nothing new, but it has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. As food accessibility conditions shift and problems take on new proportions, communities continue to respond in new ways. Some have implemented matching programs at local farmers markets, and others have installed community fridges for neighbors in need of groceries. Explore how people are collaborating to combat food insecurity in this episode of Meat and Three.

Let’s Talk About Food Episode 30: Congressman Jim McGovern, Chair of the "Hunger Caucus": Congressman Jim McGovern represents Worcester, Massachusetts, but he really represents all of us who care about food. Not only is he the chair of the powerful rules committee, but he is lobbying for a White House Conference on Food & Nutrition. The last time that happened, Richard Nixon was president.

The Big Food Question Episode 15: How can growing your own food address issues of food sovereignty and access?: The pandemic has brought long-standing issues of food access and insecurity to the forefront. While hunger and lack of access to affordable and healthful food is by no means a new problem, during the pandemic, individuals and families were finding it harder than ever to put food on the table. Take a look at how nonprofit organizations, farmers, and individuals are offering growing expertise to their communities to empower more of us to grow our own food

Meant To Be Eaten Episode 77: Why food pantries are unable to combat hunger: Do food pantries completely miss the point? Rebecca de Souza thinks they might. In Feeding the Other, Rebecca demonstrates how “food pantries stigmatize their clients through a discourse that emphasizes hard work, self-help, and economic productivity rather than food justice and equity.” We discuss the power and significance of stigma, and why food pantries are unable to combat hunger.

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