For the first time in over 50 years, the White House has launched a major new plan to ensure Americans have access to healthy food and fitness information. The overarching goals of the $8 billion initiative are to support Americans with chronic illnesses and hopefully end hunger by 2030.
One in 10 Americans say they don’t have enough food to eat — a toll that disproportionately affects people of color, queer people, military veterans, older adults, people living in rural areas, and disabled and chronically ill people.
The Biden administration laid out an ambitious list of programs to address the nation’s health, which involves both the public and private sectors. It includes plans to increase access to free and nutritious school meals, reduce food waste, encourage farms to donate fresh produce to local food banks, and improve enrollment rates for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
SNAP is a state-run program that helps families with low incomes purchase food.
Another major part of the federal government's plan to make the country healthier is to strengthen health professionals’ education in nutrition, which is rarely discussed during primary care visits. Data shows that most medical school students spend less than 20 hours learning about nutrition.
“In America, no child should go to bed hungry,” President Joe Biden said during the Sept. 28 conference. “No parent should die of a disease that can be prevented. This can be a gigantic step to remind us of who we are. This is the United States of America. There is nothing beyond our capacity when we work together. So let's work together.”
Here are five initiatives likely to make an impact on millions of people.
The online food ordering and delivery service DoorDash is set to partner with 18 cities to increase access to healthy food. States included in this plan are Arizona, New Jersey, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, New York, California, Ohio, Georgia, Washington, and Rhode Island.
The commitment involves giving community-based organizations and charities financial credits to provide free food deliveries.
A nationally representative study found that about one-third of municipalities in the US don’t have public transportation, and among those that do, only 1 in 3 reported that they considered food accessibility when planning transportation routes. The smaller, more rural, and more diverse communities were, the less likely they were to have access to public transit.
This initiative could help reduce health disparities and rates of chronic illnesses such as obesity and type 2 diabetes by ensuring more people have access to healthy foods.
New York–based wellness company Wellory helps connect people to registered dieticians who are in-network with their insurance and help them build a custom nutrition plan.
The company pledged to offer free one-on-one nutrition counseling for up to 10 million Americans without health insurance by 2030 — the first time the company plans to open its services to the uninsured.
A 2020 State of Healthy Eating in America Study, conducted by American food production and distribution company Del Monte Foods, found that 1 in 3 people say they were never educated about nutrition, while 25% don’t feel like they know enough about it to maintain a healthy diet, particularly millennials and Gen Zers.
By 2030, the Special Olympics will develop two best practice toolkits to bring nutrition education and obesity prevention methods to people with intellectual disabilities. The toolkits will include information on inclusive health coaching and SNAP-Ed benefits.
And by 2030, the organization plans to train 5,000 fitness professionals on fitness methods and curricula that are more inclusive and will be taught to at least 1,500 physical education, physical therapy, and public health employees.
This is a big win for people in disability communities, who are three times more likely to have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or strokes than those in nondisabled communities, according to the CDC. Physical activity, taught in ways that meet people where they’re at and performed safely, can improve strength, confidence, balance, social skills, and overall well-being.
Grocery delivery and pickup service Instacart will incorporate SNAP and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program into its platform, expanding these benefits to its more than 650 grocery partners by 2030.
TANF is a federal program that provides short-term cash payments and support to families who have low or no income.
The company will also launch 23 new “tags” on its platform that will help customers find foods that are low in sugar, vegan, or compliant with other nutritional recommendations. What’s more, Instacart will release a new feature that will allow healthcare providers, nutritionists, and caregivers to develop shoppable lists for disease-specific diets.
Any organization, including employers and health systems, will also be able to give its employees or patients stipends to buy fresh, healthy foods through the company.
By 2030, MyFitnessPal, the smartphone app and website that tracks diet and exercise, will offer free premium memberships (which normally cost $20 a month) to at least 1 million Americans at risk for diet-related disease. The company will work with community health organizations to help enroll eligible people.
MyFitnessPal will also create a new educational series that will teach people about making healthy choices for their fitness while on a budget.
About 50% of US adults have diet-related chronic diseases, according to the CDC, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.