Impact of the 1969 Conference

A Historic Event for U.S. Food Policy

The 1969 Conference brought the nation together to address widespread hunger in America and was chaired and organized by Dr. Jean Mayer—a leading nutrition scientist, the tenth president of Tufts University, and the namesake of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts. The conference established much of the current U.S. food policy framework, including major expansion and harmonization of the National School Lunch Program and the Food Stamp program (now SNAP), creation of the School Breakfast Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and new consumer protections like nutrition labeling. These policies together greatly reduced caloric hunger and vitamin deficiencies in the U.S.

The historic success of the 1969 White House Conference was largely the result of several elements in place prior to its opening remarks. They included:

  • Substantial and broad support for the Conference from the executive and legislative branches of government
  • Deep engagement with an inclusive range of public and private stakeholders at all levels
  • A robust mix of sector experts who provided authoritative content with well-framed potential solutions for attendees ahead of the conference.

This advance work empowered the attendees to engage in a robust discussion of the pertinent issues, reflecting a keen understanding and thoughtful insight into the problems and potential solutions. The agreed-upon recommendations that arose from the 1969 Conference have forever changed the national food policy and nutritional landscape. But, with no further coordinated national attention on food, our policies and systems are sorely outdated.

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