Coming Together to Address Hunger and Support Healthy Communities

In the United States, nearly 34 million people experience hunger or food insecurity, including millions of children. Those who cannot afford or have access to healthy foods are at higher risk of diet-related diseases like heart disease and diabetes, some of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. 

The CDC Foundation is engaging with hundreds of organizations and stakeholders across the country to systemically address the issue and build healthier communities for all. During a recent webinar, Dr. Judy Monroe, CDC Foundation president and CEO, spotlighted this work and the power of partnerships.

"There are many solutions to ending hunger in America," said Dr. Monroe. "To make meaningful progress, we need new strategies that bring together resources and expertise to make a sustainable impact. I am inspired by all of the organizations that have already stepped up to help reach this goal."

During the online event, Dr. Monroe was joined by representatives from the White House Domestic Policy Council to discuss the importance of this work.

"We're full steam ahead on taking action as the federal government, and truly appreciate your continued partnership—especially through this new action collaborative," said Kelliann Blazek, White House Domestic Policy Council. "We've heard from many of you that you're eager to learn from one another, to build off each other's successes and to make progress towards the President's goals."

A panel of representatives from Fresh Food Coalition, Vertical Harvest Farms and Brighter Bites/UTHealth Houston School of Public Health also joined the discussion to talk about how strategic partnerships can harness the power of collaboration to achieve better results, together. 

"When we first all came together, each of us, as nonprofits, had our own sector that we were serving. But one of the things that we discovered was that by bringing the three of us together we became a force multiplier that was able to do so much more work. We literally took one organization that was distributing 35 million pounds of food to the three organizations. distributing more than 230 million pounds of food in a very short period of time. And so what we saw was an opportunity to partner with other like-minded organizations through the Fresh Food coalition." – Lynda Zambrano, Co-Director of the Fresh Food Coalition, representing the National Tribal Emergency Management Council

"We live in a very diverse part of the country, and we serve a lot of people that all deserve to be fed and healthy... [During the COVID pandemic,] what we realized is that one organization alone cannot do it. It requires folks with like minds and the heart to serve." – LaTanya Horace Dubois, Co-Director of the Fresh Food Coalition, representing The Silent Taskforce

"These organizations recognize that no one should wonder where their next meal is coming from. But we're also saying that these meals should be the best that they can be." – Nona Yehia, CEO/Co-Founder, Vertical Harvest Farms

Since 2022, the CDC Foundation has engaged partners in a comprehensive approach that has secured nearly $10 billion in public-private commitments in support of the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. This strategy, originally unveiled at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in 2022, was a key first step in a new, national coordinated movement for the public and private sectors to drive transformative change to end hunger in the United States by improving nutrition, physical activity and reducing the deep disparities surrounding them.

A new CDC Foundation website provides an overview of the initiative and lists the specific organizational commitments made to date in support of the White House challenge. The website also includes information about a National Action Collaborative for Hunger, Nutrition and Health, led by the CDC Foundation, that will bring together community-based organizations and others working on the national strategy. 

While the effects of hunger can impact any American, the toll from hunger is not distributed equally. Hunger and food insecurity disproportionately impact underserved communities, communities of color, low-income families and rural Americans. The recent webinar was an opportunity to highlight a few bright spots around the country where changemakers are fostering partnerships to end hunger and build healthier communities in the U.S. 

Rachel Ferencik
Rachel Ferencik, MPA, is the director of the Non-Infectious Disease Programs