Business leaders, nonprofits, medical institutions, community groups, members of the Biden administration, Congressional representatives, educators, researchers, and members of state and local governments are gathering together in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to discuss ways to solve issues of food policy, hunger and increasing dietary health at the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in more than 50 years.
Several entities involved in the food business are doing more than discussing the issues at hand. They’ve made commitments to donate funds, reformulate products and revamp labels.
“Our fellow Americans, everyone, everyone has an important role to play,” President Biden said in his opening address at the conference. “Local, state, territory and tribal governments and the federal government as well. The private sector, civil society, agriculture, philanthropy, academia.”
Here are some of the notable commitments from the food industry space. This list will be edited as new commitments are announced.
- Bowery: The indoor vertical farming company will forge new partnerships with hunger-relief organizations and expand local produce donations by thousands of pounds. By next year, Bowery will open new farms in Texas and Georgia and donate hundreds of pounds in fresh produce nearby food banks. It will continue produce donation efforts in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as launch partnerships in Brooklyn, New York, and provide low-cost salad kits to Washington, D.C., residents who may not have access to fresh produce.
- Chobani: The yogurt maker will launch a national corporate responsibility initiative, called Food Access in Reach (F.A.I.R.): Ending Child Hunger One School at a Time, to encourage businesses to "adopt-a-school" and pledge to make it food- and nutrition-secure. Chobani will adopt three schools itself: one in Twin Falls, Idaho, one in Central New York and one in New York City. The company will also adopt a $15 minimum wage for its employees to reduce hunger among its own workers.
- Danone North America: The company will prioritize new reduced-sugar, low-sugar and no-added-sugar options in its children's products, pledging 95% of them will have less than 10 grams of total sugars per 100 grams by 2030. Danone will also invest $15 million over the next seven years in partnerships with retailers to educate consumers, shoppers and healthcare providers to drive evidence-based healthy eating behaviors and diet-related health outcomes. Danone will also commit $7 million to innovate and evaluate scalable community-based impact programs to improve access to nutritious foods, and advance nutrition research on the links between food, the human microbiome, health and chronic disease.
- Dole Packaged Foods: The CPG company will work with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Mississippi, with support from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation and Partnership for a Healthier America to commit a minimum of $212,500 to launch a 12-month pilot program this fall to increase access to fruits and vegetables for as many as 24,000 families in Jackson, Mississippi. Dole plans to scale this pilot to reach 3 million children and 5,000 Boys & Girls Clubs chapters by 2030.
- The Plant-Based Foods Association: The industry group will work with Chef Andrew Zimmern, the Environmental Working Group, the James Beard Foundation and the Independent Restaurant Coalition to encourage chefs, restaurant owners and operators to offer at least one plant- based or vegetarian option on their dinner menus. The Environmental Working Group will track and report progress on a quarterly basis.
- S2G Ventures and Food Systems for the Future: The prominent food funders and several other like- minded funds launched the Food, Nutrition and Health Investor Coalition (FNHIC), which will drive $2.5 billion in private investment over the next three years to improve hunger and health outcomes through food. In addition to S2G and Food Systems for the Future, founding FNHIC participants include ACON Investments, Astanor Ventures, Beyond Impact Advisors, Bluestein Ventures, Boardwalk Collective, Cleveland Avenue, iSelect Fund, KdT Ventures, Khosla Ventures, L Catterton, Leaps by Bayer, Mayfield Fund, Middleland Capital, PowerPlant Partners, Rethink Food, Rich Products Ventures, Supply Change Capital, Synthesis Capital and Tyson Ventures. The coalition says it plans to highlight and financially support the incredible amount of emerging technological innovation underway that leverages the power of affordable and nutritious food to remediate hunger and improve human health.
- Smithfield Foods: The meat processor committed to publish an online ingredient glossary with clear information about ingredients added to enrich flavor, expand variety and enhance food safety; include cleaner labeling across 100% of its product line by 2025; reducing sugars and sodium 10% across its entire product line by 2025; reformulate all-natural and naturally cured products to simplify and transform ingredients; and reduce wheat and sesame allergens. From a financial standpoint, the company said it will donate 200 million servings of protein, valued at $200 million, by 2025.
- Tyson Foods: The meat processing company will reformulate its prepared foods portfolio to improve its nutritional value, with a focus on reducing sodium. During the next seven years, the company will also invest $255 million into anti-hunger charities to expand access to protein products, with a focus on rural and underserved areas. It will commit an additional $20 million to provide evidence-based nutrition learning programs for children and their families in the more than 100 communities where Tyson operates.
- Hormel: The company will provide the equivalent of 70 million meals through cash and product donations. Earlier this month, Hormel partnered with United Way and Baylor University’s Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty to launch the Our Hometown Food Security Community Project. The project aims to create a food secure community designation, and Hormel’s hometown of Austin, Minnesota, is its first community project. As part of its 20 by 30 Corporate Responsibility Goals, Hormel is continuing reformulations to be more clean label, increase nutrients and reduce added sugars and sodium. CEO Jim Snee also made a personal $1.5 million commitment to fund the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty Endowed Chair, which is focused on a research-based approach to hunger, poverty and food security.