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‘Food is medicine’ the New White House Pilot Program

The White House has just announced a plan in anticipation of the conference on hunger, nutrition, and health to be held in Washington on Wednesday. The Biden administration is proposing that nutrition labels—with simplified information—go on the front of food packages as part of a strategy to end diet-related diseases and hunger in America. 

This is the first time such a conference will be held since 1969, when a similar one promoted other food programs like stamps. Part of the new strategy centers around expanding nutrition assistance programs and launching more programs to cover medically planned meals. Additionally, food security programs could be expanding in sectors like school meals, kids meals during the summer, food stamps for formerly incarcerated people, and college students.

The White House says it wants the Food and Drug Administration to conduct research and create new rules for nutrition labels to go on the front of food packages. The system should “quickly and easily communicate nutrition information, such as star ratings or traffic light schemes to promote equitable access to nutrition information and healthier choices, and can also prompt industry to reformulate their products to be healthier,” the White House said in its statement.

However, it’s still up for debate how long it could take for this project to come true, as many say it could take years. Also, a big portion of this project requires legislation to pass Congress. But there are some things the administration can do on its own. Under the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and food stamp programs, in the upcoming weeks, the Agriculture and Defense departments will use pandemic relief funding to expand online shopping for food in more states and with more retailers.

Also, for the first time, a nutritionist will be hired to assist the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education in collaborating on the creation of Indigenous food hubs at schools and detention centers.

The Biden administration is adopting the food as medicine philosophy. Their wish is that Congress would pass legislation for pilot programs to cover medically designed meals for people who are on Medicare while also expanding access to nutrition and obesity counseling for people on Medicare and Medicaid. The administration also wants to encourage private health insurance companies to cover medically tailored meals and a wider variety of nutrition services.

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