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Food retailers commit to reducing hunger and boosting nutrition

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NEW YORK — Food retailers and suppliers are making ambitious commitments to help reduce hunger and stem chronic diet-related health conditions, according to FMI — The Food Industry Association, which announced the commitments September 28 following the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, an event intended to galvanize action by anti-hunger and nutrition activists, the food industry, health professionals and others addressing food and nutrition insecurity in America.

The Biden administration said it convened the conference to “lay out a transformational vision for ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030.” The plan rests on five pillars: improve food access and affordability; integrate nutrition and health; empower consumers to make and have access to healthy choices; support physical activity for all; enhance nutrition and food security research.

A “call to action” last summer netted more than $8 billion in private and public sector commitments, ranging from “bold philanthropic contributions and in-kind donations to community-based organizations, and from catalytic investments in new businesses to new ways of screening for and integrating nutrition into health care delivery.”

Commitments announced by the White House include:

Kroger, along with the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Heart Association, pledge to seek to mobilize $250 million to build a national Food as Medicine research initiative to improve the health and well-being of millions of Americans, reduce health care costs for insured populations and improve health equity.

Walgreens commits by 2030 to increasing the selection of fresh food in its stores by 20%, with more fresh produce and other healthy choices.

Albertsons Cos., through its foundation’s Nourishing Neighbors program, will help 50,000 eligible community members enroll in the federal government’s SNAP and WIC nutritional supplement programs. The company also will communicate “evidence-based suggestions for improving nutrition” to its online customers.

FMI will mobilize its membership to donate 2 billion meals to food banks and other anti-hunger organizations in 2023; make it easier to use SNAP and WIC benefits online and in retail settings; and promote consumer education on healthy foods.

Meijer will introduce a rolling set of automatic dollar-off and percentage-off discounts — from $5 to $10 and 5% to 10%, respectively — on SNAP purchases of qualifying fruits and vegetables.

Hy-Vee will deliver 30 million meals to vulnerable communities by 2025. The company will also deploy its in-store dietitians to educate 100,000 Americans in areas of low food access on healthy eating and nutrition by 2026.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores will undertake a public education campaign to communicate the importance of nutritional health and preventive screenings to improve outcomes for diet-related disease. NACDS will also partner with at least two national patient advocacy organizations to develop and distribute educational resources on nutrition and diet-related disease to community pharmacies.

Sysco will provide $500 million through its Global Good initiative over the next five years to improve healthy eating for the communities it serves. The company is also committed to improving good agricultural practices, including the construction of indoor farms in local communities.

Grow Local and its aquatic gardening subsidiary AquaTree will launch a public-private partnership to facilitate scientific research on nutrition and healthy habit formation.


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