Child and Adolescent Food and Nutrition Programs

Volume 110, Issue 5, Pages 791-799 (May 2010)

Abstract

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that children and adolescents should have access to an adequate supply of healthful and safe foods that promote optimal physical, cognitive, and social growth and development. Nutrition assistance programs, such as food assistance and meal service programs and nutrition education initiatives, play a vital role in meeting this critical need. Nutrition assistance programs create a safety net that ensures that children and adolescents at risk for poor nutritional intakes have access to a safe, adequate, and nutritious food supply. Federally funded nutrition assistance programs help ensure that children and adolescents receive meals that provide adequate energy and nutrients to meet their growth and development needs; children and adolescents have access to adequate food supplies; and women, infants, and children who have nutritional or medical risk factors, such as iron-deficiency anemia or overweight, receive supplemental nutritious foods as well as nutrition education. In addition, federally funded nutrition assistance programs serve as a means to combat hunger and food insecurity and as a vehicle for nutrition education and promotion of physical activity designed to prevent or reduce obesity and chronic disease. It is important that continued funding be provided for these programs that have been consistently shown to have a positive influence on child and adolescent well-being. Registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, are uniquely qualified to design, implement, and evaluate nutrition assistance programs for children and adolescents. Registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, are the only food and nutrition practitioners with adequate training in food science, nutrition, and food systems to implement research and surveillance programs to monitor, evaluate, and improve the nutritional status of children and adolescents.