IRUSA Participates in White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, Health

by Syed M. Hassan

Islamic Relief USA has long advocated for and supported programs designed to curb food insecurity and improve access to nutritious food. Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, high costs and living in food deserts serve as major roadblocks. 

For the first time in 53 years, the White House is hosting a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 28 in Washington, DC. IRUSA’s President and co-founder, Anwar Khan, will attend this event along with government officials, business executives, nonprofit leaders, researchers, and community activists, to achieve the goal of ending hunger and reducing diet-related diseases in the US by 2030. 

“It is an honor for Islamic Relief USA to be included in this historic event. Our faith teaches us not only to help with food access, but also to address the causes of food insecurity. I look forward to learning and working with fellow anti-hunger advocates of all and no faith, to help eradicate hunger in the US,” shares Anwar Khan. 

The conference’s goal is to improve access to healthy food by bringing together major stakeholders from various sectors to come up with innovative solutions to improve equity, reduce diet-related diseases, and promote best practices. 

“The September 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health has the opportunity to catalyze a new legacy for a 21st-century US food system that is resilient, equitable, and nutrition-focused. Such a food system can help end hunger and advance well-being for the American people, reduce health care spending, support equity across identity and income groups, catalyze new jobs and small businesses, advance minority-owned businesses and rural development, enhance military readiness, and provide for greater security and prosperity for the nation,” the Task Force on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health notes. 

Leading up to this major White House event, IRUSA and our longtime partners, Bread for the World and Mazon, are organizing a reception on Tuesday, September 27, at Bread for the World headquarters in Washington, DC. The event serves as an opportunity for networking between major stakeholders.

In 2017, Islamic Relief USA worked with No Kid Hungry by issuing a $100,000 grant that helped provide healthier school lunches to students in impoverished areas of southwest Virginia. The grant helped more than 45,000 children.

During the summer months, Islamic Relief USA works with various partners around the country to implement summer feeding programs. Children at risk of hunger are given access to healthy breakfasts and lunches at no cost. 

The first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in 1969 resulted in free and subsidized school lunches, as well as other nutrition assistance programs. Five decades later, we still face challenges in producing and providing enough food for the population. Climate change has further exacerbated food insecurity– intense weather events have destroyed crops and farmland, severely disrupting the supply. 

A recent analysis found that the safety net nutrition programs have helped drive down child poverty by more than half over a nearly three-decade period in the United States. One of the main drivers was that more families became eligible to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. On December 14, 2021, IRUSA participated in a Day of Action to support an extension to the Child Tax Credit and to make the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program available nationwide. Our advocates also sent letters to their representatives on this day to push for this legislation.

IRUSA continues to have a literal seat at the table to discuss ways to fight and prevent hunger. To find out more, visit irusa.org/advocacy. 

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