National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson shared remarks on the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, reminding policymakers and collaborators that broader health-and-wellness solutions also can be found as close as the nearest pharmacy.
Anderson and member company representatives participated first-hand in the White House Conference. NACDS also is hosting a satellite event in Washington, D.C. to extend the reach and engagement of the event.
The commitments that NACDS made in collaboration with the White House Conference were highlighted in a White House Fact sheet during the conference. In addition, aspects of the policy recommendations that NACDS issued this summer were incorporated into the national strategy that the Biden administration released.
“We are proud to support the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. Americans got to know us well during the COVID-19 pandemic as the pharmacies and retail stores that stepped up to meet patients where they are — delivering equitable and convenient access to COVID-19 vaccinations and other services,” Anderson said. “In fact, 2-in-3 COVID-19 vaccinations are given in pharmacies, and pharmacists and pharmacy staff have administered more than 266 million COVID-19 vaccinations to date.”
“I am excited for NACDS and our diverse membership to be part of this important White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health” said NACDS chair and president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy Brian Nightingale. “Pharmacies have a tremendous role to play in the healthcare ecosystem, and they are among the most accessible and trustworthy health-and-wellness destinations — with 90% of Americans living within 5 miles of a pharmacy.”
“Our industry places a strong emphasis on core health-and-wellness issues, including food as medicine, chronic disease prevention, health equity and addressing social issues surrounding health,” Nightingale said. “Delivering a comprehensive approach to treat the whole person is our priority focus. The White House Conference is a tremendous opportunity to discuss ways to further leverage pharmacies, so that we can work to end hunger, improve nutrition and health and reduce disparities.”
NACDS’ commitment reflects the Biden administration’s goal of ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 — so that fewer Americans experience such diet-related diseases as diabetes, obesity and hypertension. The commitment that NACDS announced includes:
- Launch a nationwide public education campaign focused on equitably amplifying the importance of preventive screenings and raising nutritional awareness — particularly among rural, urban and underserved populations;
- Support better public access to preventive screenings at pharmacies — in tandem with NACDS’ health status public education campaign. This will be accomplished by helping to modernize existing operational and sustainability barriers that currently prevent broader public access;
- Expand resource sharing and educational awareness. NACDS commits to forming proactive partnerships with national patient advocate organizations, collaboratively distributing educational resources on nutrition and diet-related diseases among community pharmacies, and hosting sessions on these topics across NACDS meetings and conferences in 2023;
- Continue to engage the NACDS membership in support of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health and the execution of the National Strategy. This builds on the collaboration of discussions held this summer with NACDS retailer and supplier members in preparing recommendations for the White House Conference;
- Aim to support the nation’s health-and-wellness goals by advancing key issues. NACDS will continue to advance the recommendations that the association issued to help inform the White House Conference. These include enhancing the array of services that pharmacists can provide, urging enactment of the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (H.R. 7213), and enhancing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; and
- Commit to amplifying NACDS’ seven-plus year collaboration with the Arlington Food Assistance Center to address hunger for neighbors locally.
[Read more: NACDS receives ASAE's 2021 Power of A Gold award]
Of note, the national strategy released by the Biden administration reflects aspects of the recommendations that NACDS developed and issued with member engagement during the summer. The national strategy and NACDS’ recommendations overlap in areas, including SNAP and WIC enhancement, scope of practice expansion for qualified health professionals to enhance disease prevention and management, improved access to medical nutrition therapy, and the need to incentivize payers to cover more services, NACDS said.
“NACDS members are applying that same trust and convenience in other ways that may not yet be fully realized,” Anderson said. “In the pharmacy, in food offerings, throughout the total store and in partnership with communities, NACDS members are driving hunger-relief efforts, providing prevention and management services for chronic disease, and addressing broader health-and-wellness issues.”