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President Biden pledged to end hunger in the U.S. by 2030 and commit $8 billion by the public and private sector to fight hunger and related diseases Wednesday, as he launched the first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health since 1969.

“I know we can do this, end hunger in this country by 2030, and lower the toll that dietary-related diseases take on too many Americans,” Biden said in opening remarks at the Washington, D.C., conference. “There are a lot of food deserts out there,” he added.

The White House’s stated end goal for the conference: “End hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, so that fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.”

“Some critics have pushed back at the term ‘food deserts,’ arguing that grocery chains, municipal decisions and lack of government funding contribute to what they call ‘food apartheid.’”

The last White House conference on hunger, under President Nixon, created several key programs, including school lunches; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and changes to how food manufacturers label their products.

The toll of hunger and nutrition-related diseases disproportionately impacts communities of color, those living in rural areas, people with disabilities, elderly people, the LGBTQ+ community, military families and veterans, the White House said.

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