The White House has announced for the first time in over 50 years, it will host a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health this September. The White House is seeking input to shape their anti-hunger plan from a broad, diverse group of stakeholders whose communities are affected by hunger. Your input is needed to shape the nation’s strategy for addressing hunger. Read more below on how you can weigh in on the impacts of hunger and child care to shape the priorities announced at upcoming conference.
Tell me more about this conference. What do I need to know?
The White House first held a conference on hunger in 1969, which inspired significant improvements and expansions to the federal nutrition programs. Since it has been over 50 years, the White House is holding a second conference in September 2022 where it will announce a road map to support its goal of ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity by 2030.
What is the connection between child care and hunger?
Hunger and food insecurity, and associated health challenges impact every aspect of the child care community each day. Households with children under age six have higher rates of food insecurity than other households; Black and Hispanic households also have higher rates of food insecurity when compared to the national average. Many child care providers, primarily women and often women of color, are at risk for hunger and food insecurity due to their low wages.
There are important federal nutrition programs that support millions of families attending child care programs, as well as the child care providers who support this care. Child care providers have a considerable influence on the nutrition and health of young children. In many cases, children receive most of their meals and snacks while they are in child care.
These federal nutrition programs include:
- The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) reimburses child care programs— in both center-based and family child care settings— to serve nutritious meals and snacks to children in their care. CACFP addresses food insecurity within communities by improving the nutrition and health of children, supporting family budgets, and strengthening the quality and financial stability of a child care Find more information about our CACFP participation mapping project with Nemours Children’s Health here.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest nutrition assistance program in the U.S. It provides monthly assistance to eligible low-income people to help them purchase food. While losing employment is the most common event causing a family to seek SNAP, 53% of SNAP households with children in 2019 worked and had earnings, yet still qualified for assistance.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children with nutritious foods, nutrition education, and improved access to health care to prevent nutrition-related health problems in pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood.
Why is it important for Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&Rs) to weigh in on hunger?
Since the nutrition programs, like CACFP, SNAP and WIC intersect with child care programs and the daily lives of early learning educators and families, it is critical that child care is represented and included as part of the national plan to address hunger, nutrition, and health.
As the eyes and ears of the child care community, CCR&R agencies see first-hand the effect hunger has on child care providers, children, and their families. CCR&Rs play a vital role in raising awareness of the federal nutrition programs to families and providers and providing technical assistance to programs to enroll in CACFP. CCR&Rs are acutely aware of how the under-compensation of the child care workforce is a longstanding issue, one that predates the COVID-19 crisis. Research from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment showed that between 2014 and 2016 more than half (53%) of child care workers, compared to 21% of the U.S. workforce, were part of families enrolled in at least one of four forms of federal assistance, such as SNAP. Given their unique perspective, it is critical that CCR&Rs amplify the voices of their families and providers and share what solutions can help end hunger within the child care community.
How can I share my experiences and recommend solutions to end hunger in child care?
The White House has prepared a toolkit for advocates to use during partner-led conversations and to shape written comments. Inside this toolkit, you will find information about the focus areas of the conference and five questions the White House is seeking answers to. These questions can guide your written comments and you can respond to as many as you see fit:
- How has hunger or diet-related disease impacted you, your family, or your community?
- What specific actions should the U.S. Federal government, including the Executive Branch and Congress, take to achieve each pillar? What are the opportunities and barriers to achieving the actions? Actions should include specific policy and/or programmatic ideas and changes as well as funding needs.
- What specific actions should local, state, territory and Tribal governments; private companies; nonprofit and community groups; and others take to achieve each pillar?
- What are opportunities for public- and private-sector partners to work together to achieve each pillar?
- What are innovative, successful activities already happening at the local, state, territory, and Tribal levels that could inform actions at the Federal level?
It is important to personalize your comments so it includes your reflections and what solutions can end hunger in child care in your community.
When are comments due?
The turnaround for comments is approaching quickly. Comments must be submitted by July 15, 2022, to help shape the national strategy to end hunger. Email your comments to WHHungerHealth@hhs.gov or through the White House’s online portal found here.
Click here to find the comments Child Care Aware® of America submitted to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.