Barbara Washburn Lynch, 59, a former Washington resident who was active in programs dealing with hunger and malnutrition, died of cancer Friday in New York City.

She had served on the staff that planned and presented the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health in 1969.

Mrs. Lynch also was credited with conceiving and developing a free book plan that became part of the Head Start program. She had worked with the Community Nutrition Institute, the National Center for Voluntary Action and the American Home Economics Association.

She lived in Washington from 1963 to 1975 while her husband, John f Lynch, was bureur chief for American Broadcasting company news. He now is director of the political unit for ABC news in New York.

Mrs. Lynch was born in Oak Park, Ill. She attended the University of Oregon and studied at the Chicago Art Institute. She entered the Women's Army Corps in World War II and was an Air Force public relations officer at Mitchell Field in New york and a company commander at the Air Force base in Rapid City, S.D.

After the war, Mrs. Lynch joined the old United Press in New york and then covered city hall as a regular beat.

She had been active in the League of Women Voters and the Gray Panthers.

In addition to ther husband of the home in Upper Montclair, N.J., she is survived by a daughter, Amanda, and a son, William of the home, and her stepmother, Ruth Boulboulle, of Geneva, III.