by Dr. Masina Wright
AMWA’s nutrition task force was developed in response to the White House Conference on Hunger Nutrition and Health in 2022, to promote nutrition education and to empower individuals practice Food as Medicine for our healthcare members.
Our commitment statement is as follows:
AMWA understands the impact of nutrition on health and disease and the role of food as medicine in the care of patients. AMWA commits to incorporating healthy nutrition practices when serving food at AMWA conferences and to promoting healthy eating behaviors. We will advocate for clinical curricula that addresses nutrition issues including the barriers posed by social and structural determinants of health.
Just one year ago President Biden released a new federal strategy to end hunger and to increase physical activity by 2030. Our government held public listening sessions around the country to better understand what issues were most important to address. 5 Pillars were developed from the information collected to uphold the scope and strategy of the project. AMWA participated with a well-attended listening session to discuss themes of importance to our membership.
The 5 pillars include:
- Poverty as the root cause of hunger
- Integrating health and nutrition
- Empowering consumers
- Supporting physical activity
- Research on nutrition
Recordings from the White House Conference on Hunger and Nutrition are available under the White House channel on YouTube for all to watch. Conference Details | health.gov
The conference mission is to end American hunger by 2030. We are a country with great food quantity and pervasive low quality. Hunger and Food insecurity are two great hidden moral challenges of our time. Childhood hunger is a pervasive and invisible pathology. Evidence has shown that behavioral issues and difficulty focusing correlate with childhood hunger in the classroom. The US government pledged to work with the Departments of Health and Education to address hunger through school nutrition programs. This has been challenged by many governments at the state level over the past year and is an area that needs ongoing advocacy.
Other take-home points included:
- The Rockefeller Foundation, American Heart Association and Kroeger have formed a new initiative with $250 million dollars to research and promote Food as Medicine.
- “Food” is not just groceries it is meals and nutrition
- Visionary thinking is necessary to reassess health care – we could reconceptualize health care to include paying for what keeps people healthy, including meal delivery.
- SNAP benefits eligibility will be reevaluated in 2023 after 45 years
- Medical training needs to include lifestyle and culinary medicine.
- There is a need to invest in local economy through community-based food resources with local leadership. This was reiterated several times.
- There is significant funding available at many levels to encourage physical activity through expanded green spaces, and public safety initiatives for urban, rural, and tribal communities.
A new Federal Agency has been developed to oversee and advocate for food policy, the safety of food and water, and citizen needs regarding access to quality food and safe drinking water during both stable and emergency times. The difficulty in achieving these broad and ambitious goals is the follow-through necessary to address the deep systemic inequities that have created the environments that breed hunger and sedentary living.
Food as Medicine was another major conference theme. This was also an area of primary importance to AMWA members during our listening session. Stay tuned for more information on food as medicine and join our nutrition task force to lend your voice!
Understanding what federal resources are available and those that have been revoked is an important part of meeting our patient’s food needs and relieving food insecurity.. This recent JAMA article highlights some of these resources and changes that are taking place as the pandemic emergency measures expire:
The AMWA Nutrition Task Force meets the first Wednesday of each month from 6-7 EST. We welcome everyone to join us! Our next meeting will be September 6th and we will be brainstorming new initiatives for the academic year ahead and planning the AMWA landing page. I hope to see you there! ~ Dr Masina Wright, Nutrition task force chair.
Bleich SN, Fiechtner L, Kenney EL. Opportunities to Promote Food and Nutrition Security as the Federal Public Health Emergency Ends. JAMA Health Forum. 2023;4(4):e231472. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2023.1472