Getty Images/iStockphoto

White House Commits to Ending Hunger, Diet-Related Illness by 2030

White House convened healthcare industry stakeholders and public and private enterprise in its commitment to ending diet-related illness.

The White House kicked off the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities yesterday, leading industry standouts like Missouri-based health system Ascension and health IT vendor giant Epic in a nationwide effort to address hunger and food insecurity as a social determinant of health.

The event, led by Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, unveiled the multistakeholder effort to end hunger and reduce diet-related illnesses by 2030. The Challenge comes with $1.7 billion in new commitments from the health system, payer, non-profit, philanthropy, academic, and local levels.

Involved stakeholders include the nation’s leading health systems.

Cleveland Clinic, for example, will be investing $4 million in community-based hunger initiatives and the opening of four new Nourish Food Pantry Plus locations in underserved communities, plus an additional $2 million to fund these programs in the coming five years.

At Ascension, efforts will center on food security among its own workforce by offering produce markets in its onsite food retail locations. The health system also committed to doing social determinants of health screening and closed-loop referral for all patients.

On the payer side, insurers like Cigna Healthcare said its efforts will be tailored to members in Houston through a partnership with the Office of the Mayor’s “Houston Complete Communities” initiative. The partnership aims to fortify existing resources for underserved populations in the area.

Meanwhile, health IT vendor Epic Systems said it will install food security screening tools within its technologies and help patients access community-based organizations both through a provider referral and self-service options on its MyChart patient portal.

Non-partisan think tank the Milken Institute will also participate in the Challenge, it announced in an email to journalists. In partnership with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Milken Institute will explore the role pharmacies can play in enabling Food is Medicine interventions.

“The Milken Institute’s Feeding Change is honored to be included in the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities,” Holly Freishtat, the senior director of Feeding Change at the Milken Institute, said in the emailed statement.

“In collaboration with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Feeding Change is committed to building a movement where pharmacists are recognized as key stakeholders in scaling access to Food Is Medicine interventions to improve patient health across communities.”

The Challenge has also engaged stakeholders outside of the healthcare industry, the White House said.

Instacart will be partnering with No Kid Hungry and Mercy Housing to expand access to affordable and nutritious food for families living in affordable housing complexes located in food deserts. The trio will also investigate the clinical outcomes tied to the program.

“Every family in every community should have access to the nutritious food they need to thrive,” Sarah Fleisch, senior director of Policy Research & Development at Instacart, said in a press release.

“With Instacart Health, we’re leveraging our technology and our reach to bridge food access gaps and improve nutrition security for those who need it most,” Fleisch added. “We’re proud to partner with No Kid Hungry and Mercy Housing to help families living in food deserts and affordable housing communities get the food they need while studying the health benefits of these interventions.”

The Challenge has also engaged a number of public food and nutrition social services. The full list of Challenge participants can be found here.

The White House explained that the Challenge is a complement to existing efforts unveiled at its 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. It has also been launched as an accompaniment to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, announced earlier in February 2024.

Next Steps

Dig Deeper on Patient data access

xtelligent Health IT and EHR