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Good Food Policy Can Be Our Love Letter to the Next Generation

Columns 2024-02-23, 12:45am

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Danielle Nierenberg



Danielle Nierenberg

It's time to take bold, decisive, and impactful action toward the health of people and our food systems!

Over the past few years, the White House’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health has been making important strides toward improving access to affordable, nutritious food. The Administration is working to strengthen bipartisan support for important initiatives including the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC); programs that provide groceries to low-income families with kids when schools are closed for the summer; ways to reduce added sugar in school meals; and more.

These goals are central to Food Tank’s work, too. Last year, we held two Summits tied to the National Strategy, and we have several more coming up this year to get into the nitty-gritty of building a better food system.

The first is coming up in just over a week! On Sunday, March 3, we’ll be in Durham, North Carolina, alongside Duke University’s World Food Policy Center, to discuss precisely what I mentioned earlier: The urgency of creating policy solutions that prioritize the health and well-being of generations to come.

We’ll be joined by North Carolina legislators including U.S. Congresswoman Valerie Foushee, senior White House officials, Oglala Lakota chef Sean Sherman, labor leader Baldemar Velasquez, and more.

The Summit is free to attend in-person or online! If you’ll be able to join us in North Carolina, use the code FoodTankVIP to unlock tickets HERE. And the link for virtual attendees to register for the event is HERE.

I am so excited to learn alongside our 35+ amazing speakers, including bipartisan policymakers at all levels of government, health care experts, researchers, chefs, business innovators, food sovereignty advocates, and more. 

Here’s the lineup (in alphabetical order): Craig Albanese, Duke University Health System; Alice Ammerman, UNC-Chapel Hill; Kelliann Blazek, Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture and Rural Policy; Sean B. Cash, Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; Chris M. Collins, Duke Endowment; Roy Cooper, North Carolina Governor (via video); Don Davis, U.S. Member of Congress (via video); Lauren Davis, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Merry Davis, Blue Cross Blue Shield NC Foundation; Rachel Ferencik, CDC Foundation; Gavan Fitzsimons, Duke Fuqua School of Business; Valerie Foushee, U.S. Member of Congress; Maggie Funkhouser, Carrboro Farmers Market and NC Farmers Market Network; Luis Guardia, Food Research & Action Center; Debbie Hamrick, Farm Bureau; Jeff Jackson, U.S. Member of Congress (via video); Steven Jennings, Ahold Delhaize USA; Debra Clark Jones, Duke Health; Rob Kinneen, Native Alaskan Chef + NĀTIFS; Ken Kolb, Furman University; Matt Lardie, Freelance Journalist; Kathy Manning, U.S. Member of Congress (via video); Will McIntee, White House; Greg Murphy, U.S. Member of Congress (via video); Jennifer Norka, American Frozen Food Institute; Mary Oxendine, Potlikker Capital; Luke Saunders, Farmers Fridge; Sean Sherman, award-winning chef, educator, author, and activist; Baldemar Velasquez, Farm Labor Organizing Committee; Eric Wiebe, Emanuel Food Pantry; Leonardo Williams, Mayor of Durham; and Norbert Wilson, Duke World Food Policy Center.

Again, HERE is the link to join us in-person with code FoodTankVIP, and HERE is the link to register to attend from home.

At the Summit, we’ll have discussions on community-based efforts to improve local food environments, how food businesses can increase access to healthy foods, how food procurement and purchasing programs can help farmers, eaters, and the planet, and more. I always love seeing the productive, detailed, and sometimes difficult—but necessary—dialogues that result from bringing a variety of perspectives to the table together.

But, of course, it’s not all talk. We have to prove we mean what we’re saying. After a Summit last year on food is medicine, for example, the day’s discussions became a report of formal policy priorities and recommendations submitted directly to the White House.

And we’re only getting started. In March, we’ll be at SXSW in Austin bringing together speakers, film screenings, and performances. In April, we’ll be in Atlanta alongside Emory University and Spelman College to continue discussions of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. And we have so much more in store for the rest of the year.

And a HUGE thank-you to those who joined us in Boston last night for the second debut workshop reading of Little Peasants, a play about the growing movement of union organizing among food workers. U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley delivered such inspiring opening remarks, and it was amazing to meet so many Food Tankers for a really fun night of immersive theater and food advocacy!

As Food Tankers, we all care deeply about making sure future generations have a livable planet, a healthful food system, and access to the resources they need to thrive. 

Let’s turn this into a tangible commitment! 

Let’s use community-focused policy to write a love letter to the next generation.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in a couple weeks in North Carolina—whether in person or virtually—for more urgent discussions. And until then, let’s continue to chat about ways we can build meaningful policies that create a nourished future for people and the planet! Share your thoughts with me at danielle@foodtank.com.

(Danielle Nierenberg is the President of Food Tank and can be reached at danielle@foodtank.com)