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Statement on the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health.

June 11, 1969

IN APPOINTING Dr. Jean Mayer as Special Consultant to the President, I would like to emphasize the importance of the responsibility he is assuming. The White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health will be an event of great significance.

Over the years, no country has been as closely associated with the science of nutrition as the United States: Pioneers such as Lafayette B. Mendel of Yale, E. V. McCollum of [Johns] Hopkins, Joseph Goldberger of the United States Public Health Service, and Conrad Elvehjem of Wisconsin were founders of the science. No country has ever undertaken such a gigantic and successful task of raising food as was done by this country in World War II. No country has succeeded in providing such a high standard of diet to so many millions of citizens while assisting millions more in less fortunate countries. In calling the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, we are both reaffirming our commitment to a full and healthful diet for all Americans and exploring what we yet need to know and do to achieve that goal.

For despite our achievements much remains to be done. All of us have been shocked as we have become more aware that millions of Americans are malnourished because they are too poor to purchase enough of the right kinds of foods. We also know that many Americans who have enough money to afford a healthful diet do not have one. Many of our youngsters have erratic diets which may be deficient in certain nutrients. Many more of us eat not wisely but too well.

The White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health is intended to focus national attention and national resources on our country's remaining--and changing-nutrition problems. It will assemble the Nation's best minds and expertise, from our business, labor, and academic communities. I shall ask them to consider the following questions:

1. How do we ensure continuing surveillance of the state of nutrition of our citizens?

2. What should be done to improve the nutrition of our more vulnerable groups-the very poor, pregnant and nursing mothers, children and adolescents, the aged, and those such as Indians for whom we have a direct and special responsibility?

3. As we develop new technologies of food production, processing, and packaging, how do we monitor the continued wholesomeness and nutritional value of our foods and ensure that the poor, and indeed all Americans, obtain the greatest mount of nutrients for their money?

4. How do we improve nutrition teaching in our schools--from Head Start to medical schools; and what programs of popular education do we need to better inform the public of proper food buying and food consumption habits?

5. What should be done to improve Federal programs that affect nutrition, either directly as in the Armed Forces and the Veterans Administration, or indirectly through programs such as the food stamp, commodity distribution, and school lunch programs?

I shall ask the Conference to prepare specific goals in response to these questions, goals for private industry, for government policy, and for needed research. Its conclusions and its goals will not be neatly bound and placed on a library shelf and forgotten. They will be the basis for action by this administration and the beginning of a national commitment--to put an end to malnutrition and hunger among the poor, to make better use of our agricultural bounty and nutritional knowledge, and to ensure a healthful diet for all Americans.

Note: On the same day the White House Press Office released an announcement of the appointment of Dr. Jean Mayer as Special Consultant to the President with responsibility for planning the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health. The text of the release is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, P. 819).
The text of a news briefing on the Conference by Dr. Daniel P. Moynihan, Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, and Dr. Mayer was also released.

Richard Nixon, Statement on the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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