September 12, 2022

Co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Write Letter to White House Urging Action to Address Disparities in Federal Nutrition Programs

On Tuesday, September 6th, the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), and Robin Kelly (IL-2), wrote a letter to President Biden in advance of the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, to adjust priorities on the nation's food policy agenda to ensure the agenda is inclusive of the underserved, specifically Black women. 

The last Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, held in 1969, was pivotal in determining the future of our nation’s food policy agenda that has proven to be instrumental in keeping Americans fed. In one notable example of policy to emerge from that Conference, Representative Shirley Chisholm and Senator Robert Dole recommended a pilot program administered by the USDA to target supplemental food assistance for pregnant women and their infants and young children. This program was codified shortly thereafter and is now known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which services over 6 million Americans each month.

Other food assistant programs, like WIC, are critical for America’s most vulnerable groups and remind us that bipartisanship and intersectionality are tools of strength, especially on issues concerning hunger, nutrition, and health. 

The three Co-Chairs urged the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to consider expanding participation and alleviating disparities in federal nutrition programs specifically for Black women. 

In addition to expanding eligibility, full participation and a purposeful focus on servicing the most vulnerable populations were also noted to be critical steps towards improving access and affordability to healthier food options.

Furthermore, Members asked the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to tackle food insecurity and the disproportionate access to nutritious food options facing different populations, divided by geographic region, income, race, or gender.

Additionally, to address food insecurity, they asked for a re-examination and updated terminology and requested more time to understand how to best close gaps in nutrition security research that do not consider the lived experiences of marginalized groups. 

Lastly, Members encouraged the Conference to address disparities in access to physical activities.

“We ask that federal, state, and local governments work with the White House during the Conference to examine how best to allocate research opportunities and resources to community partners who are familiar with the needs on the ground and are better equipped to formulate community-driven solutions.”

The Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health will convene later this month.

The letter can be read here.