As Prepared For Delivery:

Thank you, José, for the kind introduction, and good evening everyone. I’d like to thank President Wrighton and the George Washington University team for your warm welcome today. It’s a pleasure to be here at the launch of such an exciting initiative.

First off, I want to commend and thank you, José, for your leadership, your passion, your friendship, and your vision. Your transformational humanitarian efforts at World Central Kitchen have touched countless lives around the globe. You have shown the world the power of food as a force for good and been a constant champion of the work of the Biden-Harris Administration to end hunger in America and reduce diet-related diseases. President Biden recently called on you to serve as the co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, and we are deeply grateful for your ongoing partnership.

Today we celebrate the launch of yet another example of José’s dedication to progress: The George Washington University Global Food Institute.

The launch of this Institute could not be more timely or critical: in the United States, one in 10 households experiences food insecurity. One in 10 Americans has diabetes; four in 10 have high blood pressure. The vast majority of Americans do not eat enough vegetables, fruits, or whole grains, and eat too much saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. We have to do better.

GW is setting the bar for how academic institutions can promote food access and nutrition around the world. The Global Food Institute will invest in groundbreaking research and prioritize interdisciplinary teaching, learning, and action. It is an example of the kind of ambition society needs to address our hunger and nutrition challenges.

This Institute is designed to break down siloes and unite people from across society to achieve far-reaching impact across three pillars: policy, innovation, and humanities. I’m looking forward to this Institute producing new research, incubating innovative technologies, and spurring important domestic and global policy conversations about food. 

This cross-sector and integrated approach to understanding and improving our food system aligns with President Biden’s ambitious goal to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030—all while closing disparities among the communities that are impacted most.

Last September, President Biden hosted the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in over a half-century, released a National Strategy outlining our plans to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases, and announced over $8 billion of external commitments. I encourage you to check out to learn more. 

We welcomed Americans from all walks of life and every corner of the country to the White House Conference to ignite action from every sector—the government, advocates, philanthropy, the private sector, and everyday Americans—to tackle hunger and diet-related diseases. We were honored to have José as a keynote speaker. As you will appreciate, he really fired up the audience!

Since then, we’ve made significant progress toward implementing the President’s National Strategy. 

We’ve worked with Congress to enact a bipartisan, permanent nationwide Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children Program, helping children who depend on school meals access food in the summertime. We’ve released several proposed rules to support nutritious meals for students; removed barriers to using WIC online; and worked to update the “healthy” claim on food packages. 

We are thrilled that more than 60 public and private organizations stepped up to make generous commitments at the Conference and are making progress in fulfilling them. Since September, these organizations have reported serving over 9.4 million meals and raising nearly $40 million to support bringing their commitments to fruition.

To sustain this momentum, we recently launched the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities to rally a second round of external commitments and continue fostering a whole-of-society response.

We’re seeking big, bold actions that help eliminate disparities, test new models, scale up evidence-based strategies, and go beyond what the federal government can do. We are looking for efforts that can transform lives—like the George Washington University’s Global Food Institute. 

We are doing our part here in the federal government, but it’s going to take all of us—from all sectors, all communities, and all political parties—to transform our food and health systems.

I am grateful to George Washington University and José for their extraordinary commitment to these issues. You are setting the example for countless others.

Congratulations on today’s exciting announcement, and thank you for everything you’re doing to help end hunger and build a healthier future. I’m excited to see what will come next.

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