Transforming the U.S. Food System
Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, America faces an unprecedented hunger and nutrition crisis. In the summer of 2020, 14 million children were missing meals on a regular basis – a statistic that’s three times worse than the Great Recession and five times worse than before the pandemic. That is why The Rockefeller Foundation is working to support school meal programs and rapidly expand access to Produce Prescription programs, with a focus on communities of color who have been hit the hardest. We’re also putting in motion the systemic shifts necessary to make the food system more equitable, nourishing, and sustainable in the long run. Through our work, we are helping deliver nutritious foods to children and their families while advancing policies to transform the U.S. food system and improve health outcomes for everyone.
of food insecurity among households with children since the coronavirus pandemic began, affecting Black and Latinx households at double the rate of white households
- 56%of food insecure
households access at least one of the three largest nutrition assistance programs
- < 100million
Americans – one in three – has obesity, a potent risk for chronic disease
Delivering nutritious foods to children and their families while advancing policies to reduce the racial equity gap in nutrition, improve health outcomes and create shared prosperity.
Power of Procurement
Large institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities, and early childhood centers collectively spend billions of dollars on the food they serve each year. With that level of market influence, their purchasing choices shape our food system and the diets of millions of Americans. The Rockefeller Foundation is investing in programs that help these institutions set rigorous standards for the food they buy and serve to advance public health and the public good. Our grantees have recruited rural and urban school districts representing over 4.5 million students and over $1 billion in annual food purchasing to help children eat more nutritious meals and begin to catalyze bigger changes to the food system. This work is continuously expanding to engage more school districts and other institutions into a unified effort for a nourishing, equitable, and sustainable food system.
Food is Medicine
Diet-related diseases (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.) place an enormous burden on individuals, the economy, and national security, yet the health care system still places minimal emphasis on nutrition. The Rockefeller Foundation is investing in the advancement of ‘food is medicine’ interventions that help prevent, manage, and treat illness. With this approach, doctors could prescribe produce or healthy meals as easily as pharmaceuticals and reduce the need for expensive and invasive health services. Integrating healthy food into the health care system can help more Americans thrive and bring down the nation’s immense health care costs. The Rockefeller Foundation is supporting these efforts by investing in building evidence, supporting community-based programs, and advocating for policy change.
Policy and Advocacy
Policy plays an instrumental role in determining what we grow, who benefits from it, and how it affects our planet. The Rockefeller Foundation is helping policymakers better understand the impact of our food policy choices by advocating for greater investment in nutrition research and accounting for the true costs and benefits of our current diets. At the same time, we are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic by advancing policies to ensure all American children and families have equitable access to healthy food. This includes investing in school food programs as anchors of community nutrition, integrating food and nutrition into the health care system, and elevating the importance of food policy as a lever for health, economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and equity.
The coronavirus pandemic has made stark the connection between nutrition and health. We absolutely need to integrate food security and nutrition security into our health care system and as part of health provision in the U.S.Devon KlatellManaging Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation
True Cost of Food: Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System
The True Cost of Food in the U.S. In the U.S., food costs more than our receipt at the grocery checkout. Our food system rings up immense “hidden costs” from its impact on human health, the environment, and social and economic inequity. Consider this: In 2019, American consumers spent an estimated $1.1 trillion on food. […]More
Reset the Table: Meeting the Moment to Transform the U.S. Food SystemWhile Covid-19 and the resulting economic downturn made the negative consequences of the food system worse and more obvious, the pandemic did not create them and its end will not solve them. Covid-19 has, however, increased both the imperative and the opportunity to address these flaws and limitations once and for all. Now is the moment to transform the U.S. food system.Download PDF