Ahead of White House Conference, BCHP Hosts Partner-Led Convening
On Tuesday, July 12, the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty (BCHP) hosted a Partner-Led convening to solicit ideas ahead of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September. The last conference of this nature occurred in 1969 during the Nixon administration and resulted in transformative accomplishments such as the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), improvements to child nutrition programs, authorization of the Supplemental Feeding Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and much-needed modernization to nutrition labeling.
The Biden administration announced the White House Conference in May and has asked Americans to share their stories and ideas to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities by 2030. At Tuesday's convening, community members, researchers, advocates, and practitioners from diverse fields shared strategies to improve food security and create conditions in which all communities can thrive. Breakout rooms focused on maximizing participation in child nutrition programs during the summer months, building and strengthening public-private partnerships and infrastructure, and conducting equity-centered, evidence-based research.
The breakout conversation on maximizing participation in child nutrition programs during the summer months focused heavily on barriers that prevent children from accessing summer meals and the challenges schools and non-profits encounter in providing those meals. Tara Green, Child Nutrition Director for Normangee ISD, spoke about how distance prevents children from accessing summer meals in rural areas. Other school nutrition personnel shared how complicated regulations and lack of funding for quality personnel and infrastructure create no-win situations for departments that have the will, but not the resources, to offer robust summer programs. Other issues raised included ways school gardens can be used to provide healthy food for students, the success of Meals-to-You, BCHP’s summer rural meal delivery demonstration project, and how the lack of affordable housing stresses family food budgets.
In the public-private partnership session, Katrina Huffman, an AmeriCorps VISTA with the McCulloch County Hunger Coalition, and Lee Pipkin, the Executive Director of the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank and a member of the Tom Green County Hunger Coalition, spoke about their work fostering multi-sectoral collaboration. BCHP's Hunger Free Community Coalition model, which is utilized by numerous coalitions around the state, is anchored in the core belief that no one sector is capable of addressing hunger (or any social challenge) alone, but true change requires cooperation between individuals, non-profits, government, private enterprise, and faith communities. Huffman and Pipkin shared ways this multi-sectoral collaborative approach has been effective in their communities. Participants in this session raised helpful questions and gave valuable guidance around issues such as social determinants of health, funding opportunities for public-private partnerships, and the need for tax incentives for grocery stores located in areas where food access is lacking.
In the third breakout session, Dr. Elaine Waxman, Senior Fellow at Urban Institute, set the table for the discussion on equity-centered, evidenced-based research by sharing the significant strides made in the past few decades in understanding food insecurity and public responses to it. However, serious challenges with regard to hunger, particularly stark racial inequities, still exist. Among numerous topics and stories, participants spoke of the need for amplifying qualitative research, reimagining funding mechanisms for participatory stories, and expanding the literature on under-researched topics such as food insecurity among college-aged youth, formerly incarcerated populations, and understanding food security challenges in rural areas.
The stories and ideas shared at the listening session will be compiled and sent to the White House for the upcoming conference. Participants were reminded that these conversations were simply a starting point and must continue for the bipartisan work of ending hunger to be successful.
The date for the September conference has yet to be determined but will be shared on all BCHP social media channels once it is announced. The Baylor Collaborative also encourages everyone to visit the White House conference page and submit their own stories, comments, and feedback. In addition, Food Systems of the Future has created a helpful toolkit on how other organizations can host their own partner-led dialogues.