H2HC hosted 70+ local and national corporate, government, healthcare, and nonprofit leaders at its Nov. 17 Fall Summit at the Museum of Science.
Museum President Tim Ritchie opened the event, and Chairman Jim McGovern shared a recorded message on the need for the private sector to move forward with urgency to address hunger, nutrition, and health challenges.
Dr. Sara Bleich, Director of Nutrition Security and Health Equity for the Food and Nutrition Service at USDA, discussed national challenges and opportunities from her agency’s perspective. Dr. Bleich focused on the ambitious and achievable actions the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA will pursue in their work to end hunger, improve nutrition, and reduce diet-related chronic diseases by 2030 across five pillars: 1) Improve food access and affordability; 2) Integrate nutrition and health; 3) Support physical activity for all; 4) Empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices; 5) Enhance nutrition and food research. (VIEW DR. BLEICH’S SLIDES)
Our first afternoon panel on innovative work across sectors featured Ruby Ferguson, Food Equity Policy Lead for the City of Chicago; Prof. Wiljeana Glover, Founding Faculty Director of the Kerry Murphy Healey Center for Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Babson College; and Julie Greene, Director of Guiding Stars Licensing Company, in a conversation moderated by H2HC Executive Director Nicolene Hengen. The panelists each highlighted their diverse and innovative approaches in advancing food, nutrition, and health equity: Ferguson’s work drives collaboration between the City of Chicago, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and other members of the City’s Food Equity Council to advance a strategic, city-wide plan to build a more just and equitable food system, and she is also charged with advancing the 5 food policy priorities in City’s Food Equity Agenda. The Greater Chicago Food Depository also recently won a Chicago Innovation Award for their technological development of an online search tool, Vivery, that helps people at risk of food insecurity locate food pantries, meal programs and other support services. Prof. Glover is a health innovation scholar and healthcare entrepreneur. Her work takes a systems perspective to examine how improvement and innovation practices can achieve more equitable and effective outcomes in healthcare settings, and she conducts research studies in a variety of countries. Greene leads Guiding Stars, a nutrition navigation program used by food retailers to help people make informed decisions about the products they choose through a 3-star system. Launched 16 years ago, Guiding Stars is now available in more than 2,000 retail locations, and won an MIT Innovation prize in 2020.
The day also included a panel focused on health equity and pathways to success from a healthcare and nonprofit perspective. Panelists included Dr. Thea James, Executive Director of the Health Equity Accelerator and Vice President of Mission & Associate Chief Medical Officer at Boston Medical Center (BMC); Dr. Elsie Taveras, Inaugural Chief Community Health Equity Officer and Executive Director of the Kraft Center for Community Health at Mass General Brigham (MGB); and David Waters, CEO of Community Servings, in a conversation moderated by Dr. Sara Bleich of USDA. Dr. James provided details of BMC’s Health Equity Accelerator, which was launched under her leadership as a radical system-wide transformation built to deliver health justice and wellbeing by bringing together leading-edge research, patient and community partnerships, and clinical operations. Dr. Taveras provided details of MGB’s United Against Racism initiative, which is a long-term, multi-million-dollar commitment to address the many impacts that racism has on MGB patients, employees, and the broader community. Waters discussed his experience as a leader of the national food as medicine movement and exciting developments on the national landscape. The panelists also detailed the significant public commitments each of their organizations have made in response to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
The Summit closed with a group discussion on pathways forward to advance our shared nutrition, health equity, and food security goals. Summit participants offered ideas for H2HC partnerships, helped to identify potentially scalable models, and suggested next steps for H2HC to move this important work forward. Following the Summit, H2HC plans to put these collective ideas into action by focusing on engaging critical stakeholders, uplifting effective strategies, removing barriers to collaboration, and continuing to prioritize equity to transform our health system.