The upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health presents a rare opportunity for the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to advance racial justice, well being, environmental safety, and native prosperity. NRDC submitted the next feedback to inform the strategy that can be offered on the Convention this fall.
Suggestions for the White Home Convention on Starvation, Diet, and Well being
NRDC (the Pure Assets Protection Council) appreciates the chance to supply feedback to tell the nationwide technique that can be introduced on the White Home Convention on Starvation, Diet, and Well being. On behalf of our greater than three million members and advocates, NRDC works to safeguard the Earth – its individuals, its vegetation, and its animals, and the pure techniques on which life relies upon. Our present agricultural system threatens our surroundings and well being, however agriculture additionally has nice potential to guard our local weather, improve biodiversity, and construct more healthy communities.
We urge the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to look at the quite a few methods our meals system at the moment reinforces racial, well being, environmental, and financial inequities and to advance reforms that concurrently enhance fairness and enhance well being, environmental, and financial outcomes, notably for Black, Indigenous, and different individuals of shade (BIPOC) and low-income communities. The nationwide technique ought to leverage resilient meals techniques approaches as instruments for attaining meals safety and constructing wealth in underserved communities, particularly BIPOC communities, together with insurance policies and investments that:
- Develop and increase natural and regenerative manufacturing of nutritious, climate-friendly meals.
- Stop and cut back meals waste all through the meals system.
- Assist regional foodsheds and steady markets.
- Strengthen social security nets.
- Tackle meals system consolidation.
As President Biden acknowledged in Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Fairness and Assist for Underserved Communities By means of the Federal Authorities, “[o]ur nation faces converging financial, well being, and local weather crises which have uncovered and exacerbated inequities,” and “a historic motion for justice has highlighted the insufferable human prices of systemic racism” – notably in our meals system.
Power starvation – or extra exactly, food insecurity – is a symptom of those inequities; it should be named and addressed on the root causes. Meals insecurity is an financial and social situation of restricted or unsure entry to nutritious and culturally acceptable meals; revenue, meals pricing, and meals availability are key elements that affect meals insecurity, and every of those elements is formed via public insurance policies which have failed, and proceed to fail, our most weak individuals and communities. Precisely and relevantly naming the problem of accessing ample nutritious and culturally acceptable meals is a necessary step in figuring out potential options.
Communities have been harmed by the disaster of meals insecurity for many years, and our nation’s dependence on charitable meals distribution to repair meals insecurity is just not working. At this time, almost 40 million individuals residing in america shouldn’t have dependable entry to inexpensive and nourishing meals. As well as, the local weather disaster threatens our capacity to supply a steady provide of such meals, until we take steps to shift meals manufacturing away from extractive and towards regenerative practices. Communities, together with Tribes and Tribal Nations, want to have the ability to acquire and/or produce wholesome, nutrient-dense meals which might be grown, raised, produced, or gathered with natural, climate-friendly, and culturally related practices.
For a lot too lengthy, amount and high quality of meals have been handled as separate points, and at worst – pitted in opposition to one another as competing relatively than complementary priorities. Approaches to assuaging meals insecurity that prioritize low-cost energy with out adequate consideration to dietary high quality and externalized harms to public well being and the setting from meals manufacturing fail to really advance well being in weak communities. On account of agricultural insurance policies that skew markets towards low-cost commodities which might be produced in ways in which generate environmental and agricultural air pollution, lots of the similar individuals residing with poverty and struggling to place meals on the desk additionally face well being threats of their air, water, meals, workplaces, houses, and communities. We want significant coverage options that tackle these challenges collectively.
1. Develop and increase natural and regenerative manufacturing of nutritious, climate-friendly meals.
We want a everlasting, complete national organic transition program that helps smaller-scale producers and producers of shade as they transition to natural farming and ranching, particularly in areas of the nation that haven’t obtained an equitable share of public investments in agriculture. With funding to ease the dangers of transition for farmers and ranchers and regionally related assist for each practices and enterprise improvement, extra producers will have the ability to provide their communities with inexpensive meals produced in ways in which construct wealth and shield well being. Public investments in natural present a path towards economically and environmentally sustainable farming that expands entry to wholesome meals for everybody.
Investing in natural and regenerative techniques may also assist us transfer away from intensive livestock agriculture that harms agricultural and frontline communities, exacerbates local weather change, and will increase the danger of antibiotic-resistant infections. Serving to producers transition to techniques that hold animals on pasture for many of their lives or on diversified farms the place animals and different crops are built-in will reduce these harms. These investments ought to be coupled with clear commitments from the Biden-Harris Administration to extend sustainably produced plant-forward and plant-based meals on menus below its purview, equivalent to faculty meals, navy commissaries, and hospital cafeterias.
2. Stop and cut back meals waste all through the meals system.
We additionally want to make sure that as a lot meals as potential makes it to individuals’s plates, by preventing waste all through the meals system. Particularly, extra versatile regional provide chains, instructional campaigns, and investments in analysis and know-how to cut back on-farm loss can hold good meals out of landfills (and keep away from exacerbating our local weather disaster). When there’s surplus meals, we should always rescue and redistribute it, whereas concurrently specializing in options that tackle root causes of meals insecurity. We additionally want extra federal investments in all ranges of composting infrastructure, from the neighborhood to regional degree, to reestablish a closed loop that turns meals scraps right into a nutrient-rich soil modification that in the end grows extra nutritious meals, whereas sequestering carbon.
3. Assist regional foodsheds and steady markets.
Along with decreasing meals waste, investing in vibrant native and regional meals provide chains additionally builds community food security and economic stability. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our centralized, extremely concentrated meals system. In distinction, local and regional food supply chains provide an vital stabilizing impact. We want extra native and regional scale infrastructure – aggregation factors, processing, chilly storage, and past – to make sure that inexpensive, nutritious meals is persistently out there in every single place and producers usually are not pressured to ship their harvests lengthy distances or go away them to rot when a single hyperlink within the meals chain breaks. Whether or not the problem we face is a public well being pandemic, wildfire, drought, or different climate-related impression, investments in nimble native and regional meals provide chains will enhance neighborhood resiliency within the long-term.
Shorter provide chains that flow into cash in native economies additionally bolster financial stability in good occasions and in troublesome stretches. Investing in native and regional provide chains has lengthy been thought of an efficient method to ship widespread financial advantages to small- and mid-scale producers, who are sometimes farmers of shade and traditionally underserved by conventional agricultural packages, and to the communities the place these farms are located. Natural and regenerative producers want these native provide chains, and markets to compete in an more and more consolidated system. Finally, shorter provide chains might help battle meals insecurity by creating extra steady provide of merchandise to in danger communities. Native and regional meals techniques additionally generate a strong multiplier impact, benefiting not solely farmers and ranchers, but additionally meals processors, meals hubs and meals producers, particularly when coupled with strong institutional markets. For instance, we all know that each greenback spent on Farm to College buying means as much as $2.16 in local economic activity. As well as, strengthening hyperlinks between regional foodsheds and institutional patrons (e.g., colleges, meals banks, hospitals) will be sure that meals producers have markets and communities have meals.
4. Strengthen the social security internet.
Our nation’s dependence on charitable anti-hunger meals distribution ignores lots of the root causes of meals insecurity in america. The impacts of local weather change are additionally including to those struggles. Warmth publicity for farm employees can worsen the dangers of pesticide publicity; provide chain disruptions could make incomes unstable and unpredictable for meals system employees; and crop losses resulting from droughts and floods can put farms out of enterprise and lift meals prices for shoppers. When emergencies strike, individuals on the frontlines want quick and versatile help that permits them to rebound. Meals pantries can’t take up the elevated want for meals help – particularly as extra pure disasters happen resulting from local weather change. Pandemic response insurance policies have helped farmers, employees, and shoppers alike climate unprecedented challenges and put together for the long run – from supporting cowl cropping via crop insurance coverage to SNAP incentives, offering year-round meals in school, and connecting native meals producers with individuals who urgently want meals. Relatively than transferring away from these insurance policies when the COVID disaster is behind us, lots of these insurance policies ought to be made everlasting to construct extra resilience into the meals system and our social security internet, before the next disaster strikes.
5. Tackle meals system consolidation.
Lastly, insurance policies to deal with starvation, vitamin, and well being can’t be full with out insurance policies that reign in meals system consolidation. The individuals on the poles of the meals system – meals and farm employees and shoppers – are struggling to make ends meet, partly as a result of a handful of corporations at key factors within the meals system reap a lot of the earnings. The biggest gamers in our meals system have disproportionate power to affect who eats what, the place, and at what value, in addition to how meals is produced, who earnings, and who bears the prices. Insurance policies that drive investments in native and regional meals techniques, relatively than exacerbating consolidation, hold cash in communities and enhance native wealth, which is a crucial device for guaranteeing meals is inexpensive.
We admire your consideration to the methods the nationwide technique launched on the Convention can promotes holistic well being – for individuals, ecosystems, native economies, and the setting.