Statement from Richard Besser, MD, on Policy Advancements Related to Food and Nutrition

    • August 19, 2021

Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation strongly supports recent policy advancements related to food and nutrition that move us closer to the society we need to be. No one in America should go hungry. No parent should have to choose between buying food for their children or paying rent. Healthy, affordable food should be available in every community. 

However, every day, millions of children—particularly those from families farthest from economic opportunity—wake up hungry and without access to the nutritious foods they need to grow up at a healthy weight. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic caused food insecurity to spike but also sparked a major national policy response that provides the roadmap to end hunger in this country for good. 

This policy response includes a significant, permanent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits; free school meals during the 2021–2022 school year; temporary increases to Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) cash vouchers; and the withdrawal of a proposed regulation that would have resulted in millions of people losing SNAP benefits. We have also seen the impact of federal economic assistance on the ability of parents and caregivers to provide enough food for their families. The first round of advance payments from the expanded Child Tax Credit led to a 24 percent decline in the number of households with children reporting that they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week. These steps will improve nutrition and food security and help alleviate poverty for millions of families. 

Continuing to build on this momentum must be a national imperative. We should not be content with simply attempting to reduce hunger, poverty, and childhood obesity. We must make every effort to eliminate them entirely. With the right policy choices, the ability to do so is firmly in our grasp.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937