Healthcare organizations including Kaiser Permanente, Boston Medical Center and Mass General Brigham are making investments in nutrition and food insecurity programs as part of a White House initiative aiming to end hunger and reduce diet-related disease by 2030.
The plans are part of a more than $8 billion commitment from public and private entities to invest in innovation and philanthropy to address food insecurity. The goal was announced as part of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health that convened on Wednesday.
At least $2.5 billion will be invested in start-up companies that offer solutions to hunger and food insecurity. Nearly $4 billion will be used to increase access to nutritious food and promote physical activity.
Along with Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts, Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente and Mass General Brigham in Boston, other healthcare organizations that made commitments to the White House push were Jacksonville, Florida-based Nemours Children’s Health and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.
Kaiser Permanente is investing $50 million through 2030 to better coordinate with publicly funded nutrition programs, expand coverage of medically tailored meal programs for targeted populations and establish new community partnerships. The funding will be used to increase food and nutrition screening, expand e-commerce solutions for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits.
“When people are hungry, or lack proper nutrition or equitable access to the food they require to address their most pressing medical needs, they are less likely to get or stay healthy,” Dr. Bechara Choucair, senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente, said in a written statement. “This is a landmark opportunity to reimagine what the food and nutrition landscape can and should look like as part of a healthier, more equitable society.”
Boston Medical Center is building farms next year that will supply produce to their cafeterias and a prescription-based food pantry. Boston Medical has partnered with a minority-owned food market that will open within an affordable housing development in Boston this year.
Mass General Brigham is building two kitchens that will be used to teach healthy cooking classes local residents. The not-for-profit hospital has also invested $6.4 million in community organizations to administer medically tailored meal programs throughout Massachusetts.
The Washington state Department of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges also made commitments to the initiative that focus on access to healthy foods, food insecurity screening and training for medical professionals.
These groups are joined by retailers such as Publix, tech companies such as Google and consumer advocacy organizations in the $8 billion pledge to end hunger.
The AARP committed to expanding research on access to SNAP benefits for older adults. DoorDash is offering food delivery credits to communities with transportation barriers to accessing healthy food. Google is integrating SNAP enrollment eligibility into its search function.
The National Grocers Association intends to double the number of retailers that offer SNAP Online, with an emphasis on rural areas and agricultural communities. Hy-Vee committed to delivering 30 million meals to vulnerable communities by 2025 and to employ in-store dietitians to educate shoppers in areas that lack access to healthy foods. Publix is investing $3.9 million to establish mobile food pantries.