A longtime proponent of a comprehensive gathering of nutrition experts at the White House says he expects his efforts to come to fruition next year.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., has pushed for the concept of a White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger and health for years but offered a specified timeline to reporters Wednesday.
“We’re going to have this White House conference, I expect (it) will happen next year,” McGovern said.
McGovern, the chair of the House Rules Committee and a longtime member of the House Ag Committee, held a bipartisan, bicameral event in October with Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Mike Braun, R-Ind., to introduce a bill to provide $2.5 million for the conference.
Holding a White House conference has been a priority for McGovern for years.
President Richard Nixon held the last such conference in 1969. The event led to several changes in federal nutrition policy, including the beginnings of what would become the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, and a more formalized approach to the nutrition of the nation’s school lunches.
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On Wednesday, McGovern released a separate resolution to call for additional nutrition education in medical schools. The resolution, which he offered along with Rep. Michael Burgess – a Texas Republican who was a medical doctor before his time in Congress – could set the table for conversation at the conference, McGovern said.
“My hope is that by the time this White House conference is up and running, we will have some deliverables on this matter,” he said. “If not, then you can expect more direct legislation.”
The resolution calls on “medical schools, residency and fellowship programs, and other health professional training programs provide meaningful nutrition education that demonstrates the connection between diet and disease, and develops the skills necessary to initiate meaningful nutrition interventions and referrals.”
A recent hearing of a Senate Ag subcommittee offered a blistering critique of the federal government’s approach to hunger and nutrition, suggesting – among other things – a boost to food and nutrition education for the nation’s doctors.
McGovern said he expects the resolution to be considered “in the near future.”
“The whole point of this resolution is really to get the powers in medical education,” he said. "That’s what this is about; we want change.”
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