Academy and Other Health Organizations Strongly Encourage Department of Homeland Security: Ensure Well-Being of Children Affected by Immigration Policy

July 2, 2018

CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics initiated and led a collaborative of more than a dozen health organizations in strongly encouraging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure the mental and physical well-being of children affected by its immigration policy.

At the request of the Academy, the organizations sent a letter on July 2 to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, expressing concerns about children and the long-term impact on their mental and physical well-being. The letter asks DHS to ensure that food and nutrition requirements are met, and access to medical care is provided to families who are placed in temporary detention or care provider facilities.

"Nutrition services provided by registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetic technicians, registered are essential components of comprehensive care for children in these facilities," said Mary Russell, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' 2018-2019 President.

In addition to the Academy, the health organizations signing the letter are:

  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles
  • Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
  • Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
  • California Food Policy Advocates
  • California Immigrant Policy Center
  • The Children's Partnership
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Right
  • Colorado Children's Campaign
  • Community Clinic Consortium of Contra Costa and Solano Counties
  • Family Health - Bronx Health REACH
  • First Focus
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • National WIC Association
  • Society for Reproductive Investigation
  • Tisch Food Center

According to the letter:

  • Children and adolescents placed in facilities, whether administered by governmental or non-governmental organizations, should be reunited with their families as soon as possible.
  • To promote optimal physical, cognitive and social growth and development, children should have access to an adequate supply of healthful and safe foods and clean drinking water.
  • The groups strongly encourage the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that meals meet nutrition standards established by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
  • Breastfeeding infants should continue to have access to milk from their mothers in all situations.
  • Children with special health care needs should be identified upon entry into temporary care or detention facilities. Appropriate treatment and care, including nutrition services, should be provided according to evidence-based guidelines.
  • Management of facilities and the care of children and adolescents should be transparent to the public. The Academy asks DHS to share with the public how food and nutrition requirements are met, and how access to care is provided, for families who are placed in the facilities.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at