Hungry and Obese: Food and America's Well-Being

September 10, 2013


Santa Monica


Michiel Bakker, Laurie David, Robert Egger, Nona Evans, Kelly Chapman Meyer, Lawrence Soler and Jane Wells (moderator)



Today, 29 million Americans lack regular access to healthful, affordable food. Among them, one in five children and 8.3 million senior citizens struggle with hunger. Yet adult obesity has doubled over the last two decades, and 23 million children and teenagers are overweight or obese. Food and physical activity have taken center stage in the effort to improve public health, advance social justice and strengthen employment and economic growth.

This Milken Institute Forum will bring together pioneers who are prioritizing food and fitness to preserve the nation's health and economic well-being. Panelists will share their strategies and discuss what individuals and communities can do to more fully and effectively achieve a healthier nation and ensure that the current generation of children grows up with more vigor and vitality than the one before.

Moderated by Jane Wells, CNBC business reporter in Los Angeles, where she covers California's agricultural economy and other beats

Michiel Bakker Michiel Bakker is the director of Google's renowned Global Food Services operation. His focus at the Internet search giant includes developing insights and evidence regarding how food experiences enable people to be at their best and creating global partnerships to explore the challenges and opportunities in the broader food system. Bakker has more than 22 years of global experience in food and beverage operations. Prior to joining Google, he spent 17 years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Most recently, he led the firm's F&B activities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where he drove operations and guided growth and development.

Laurie David Laurie David has brought her passion to a variety of environmental and food issues. Her most recent book, "The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time," is an inspirational, practical and green guide to the family dinner ritual. David was a producer of the famed documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and executive produced HBO's "Too Hot NOT to Handle." She also authored the bestselling book "Stop Global Warming: The Solution Is You!" and co-authored "The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming." David partnered with Katie Couric to executive produce "Fed Up," a documentary examining the childhood obesity epidemic. Among numerous honors, she received the Producers Guild of America's Stanley Kramer Award, a Humanitas Prize special award and the Audubon Society's Rachel Carson Award.

Robert Egger Robert Egger is founder and president of L.A. Kitchen, which will open in early 2014. The nonprofit will professionally recover fresh food, which it will use to fuel a culinary arts job training program for those coming out of foster care or older people returning from incarceration. He pioneered this model during his 24 years as president of the DC Central Kitchen, the country's first "community kitchen." In addition, Egger is founder and president of CForward, an advocacy group that rallies employees of nonprofit organizations to educate candidates about nonprofits' economic role in communities. Egger speaks in the U.S. and internationally on the topics of hunger, sustainability, nonprofit political engagement and social enterprise.

Nona Evans Nona Evans is president and executive director of the Whole Kids Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by Whole Foods Market whose mission is to improve child nutrition. To date, WKF has funded more than 2,600 salad bars for U.S. schools and more than 1,600 gardens for schools in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. It is also working on a program dedicated to improving the health and wellness of teachers. With a background in retail design, operations and marketing, Evans is putting the core principles of experiential branding to work at the foundation. She's driven by the belief that the best way to ensure a bright future is to inspire it in young people.

Kelly Chapman Meyer Kelly Chapman Meyer, an environmental and health advocate, is co-founder of the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens and a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She joins her passions to spur policies and programs for the health and wellness of the individual and the environment. Meyer co-founded Teaching Gardens to combat the rise of childhood obesity and lifestyle-related illnesses. She organized Peace Paddle Out, a Guinness-world-record-setting event to raise awareness and funds to protect the oceans. Moreover, as co-founder of the Women's Cancer Research Fund, Meyer has helped raise $40 million for groundbreaking biomarker research. Among other honors, she was named to Oprah Winfrey's O Power List, was a Huffington Post Game Changer and received the Environmental Media Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lawrence Soler Lawrence Soler is president and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America. PHA works with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation's youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. Earlier, Soler was chief operating officer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where he oversaw fundraising and local chapters, marketing and communications, information technology, government relations, and international development. At JDRF, he led efforts that secured $1.75 billion in mandatory federal funding for type 1 diabetes research, the only disease that receives such funding. He also created and chaired the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, which comprised 100 patient groups, universities, scientific societies and foundations.