Academy Commitment to End Hunger and Improve Health

09/19/2022 - The September 28 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health will catalyze the public and private sectors around a coordinated strategy to accelerate progress and drive transformative change to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity and close disparities among communities. The goal is to end hunger and increase healthful eating and physical activity by 2030.

Achieving this goal will require collective action. The nonprofit CDC Foundation is working to identify cross-sector partners interested in making transformative commitments to align their efforts with one or more of the five pillars outlined by the White House. These commitments may be recognized at the White House Conference.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics forwarded commitments to the White House on the following: 

Commitment: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, will accelerate efforts to diversify the allied health workforce, including the field of nutrition and dietetics.

Rationale: Food is deeply rooted in culture and tradition. Quality nutrition care must include consideration of the profound role that food plays in our communities and in our lives. While ensuring communities have access to a health care workforce that is representative of the U.S. population is important, it is especially crucial for the field of nutrition and dietetics. This commitment aligns with the focus of the Academy's Strategic Plan.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation will:

  • Pursue legislative strategies in partnership with education groups such as the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education to secure $300 million in funding for Minority Serving Institutions. We will recruit, train and retain students of color in allied health professions, including $10 million earmarked for nutrition and dietetics professional career programs.
  • Collaborate with the U.S. Department of Education to identify existing grant and funding opportunities to support recruitment of students of color into allied health programs.
  • Raise funds to increase annual scholarship giving to $1 million, with a significant portion allocated to scholarships for students and interns from diverse backgrounds and cultures. For the 2022-2023 school year, the Academy's Foundation awarded $860,250 to 309 recipients, of which 180 (58.3%) were recipients from diverse race/ethnicity representing $555,200 (64.5%) of funding.
  • Advocate for policies and programs that promote health equity for marginalized and minoritized populations. These populations face chronic disease health disparities due to socioeconomic inequalities and reduced access to comprehensive health care and preventive services, healthful foods and safe places to be active.

Commitment: By leveraging the role of nutrition and dietetics professionals within different settings to achieve nutrition security, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will advance efforts to bridge gaps in nutrition services from clinical care to the community.

Rationale: People with food insecurity and malnutrition are more likely to have chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Malnutrition, defined as deficiencies or excesses in a person’s intake of calories and/or nutrients, affects far too many individuals in a variety of settings, but particularly older Americans, low-resourced individuals from communities of color. Major drivers of malnutrition include food insecurity, low-quality food availability and a lack of access to nutrition care.

By leveraging the work of nutrition and dietetics professionals and providing interventions, we can impact the health of the entire population. This commitment aligns with the focus of the Academy’s Strategic Plan.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will:

  • Pursue public policy strategies to expand current reimbursable services for medical nutrition therapy and provide greater access to care for Medicare recipients, including but not limited to recipients who have malnutrition, diabetes, obesity and hypertension.
  • Partner with other allied health workforce groups to bridge the gap between clinical care and the community setting; and share resources for screening, referring, intervening and evaluating hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity.
  • Continue to advance programs positioning nutrition and dietetics professionals as the link across different settings between clinical care and the community. These include schools, faith-based organizations (for example, the Academy's partnership with the National Baptist Convention, USA, founded in 1886 and the nation's oldest and largest African American religious convention with over 31,000 churches and 7.5 million members) and retail outlets, focusing on providing medical nutrition therapy, screening for food insecurity, referring to federal nutrition programs and services and nutrition education programs.
  • Publish research on the validity of malnutrition diagnostic criteria.
  • Connect nutrition and dietetics professionals to charitable food organizations, as suggested by the White House, to deliver culturally appropriate messages to recipients and operators.
  • Distribute messages on the outcomes of the White House Conference to consumers. In the past year, Academy Spokespeople across the nation's top 30 media markets reached an audience of approximately 7.1 billion and generated 1,800 media placements. During the same time, the Academy's overall media placements reached 31.6 billion and appeared 16,500 times in media stories. In addition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has 17 profiles across six social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn) for a following of nearly 1.2 million users. Of those, the nine social media profiles that target nutrition and dietetics professionals saw more than 14 million impressions last year (August 2021 to August 2022). For the same time, the Academy's website for members and professionals eatrightPRO.org had more than 5 million page views. As a partner, the Academy would distribute messaging through media channels and online promotion on eatright.org, eatrightPRO.org, as well as on social media channels.
  • Host and emphasize the White House messages at the third annual Nutrition and Health Equity Summit in collaboration with the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. Increase visibility of the importance of nutrition security and access to nutrition care services for achieving optimal community health. Previous Summits have brought together experts from diverse backgrounds to explore the role of nutrition in chronic disease prevention and management and the untapped power of community engagement. The next summit is planned for February 2023 during Black History Month. It will focus on a coordinated strategy to accelerate progress and drive transformative change to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity and close disparities among communities.

Commitment: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will advance efforts to increase access to healthy school meals for all students.

Rationale: Members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, see the negative impacts of a poor diet among children every day. Before the pandemic, most children’s diets fell short of recommendations for good health. Of the many lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure that all children have access to healthful school meals has been a priority in communities across the country.

Healthy students are better learners and school meals provide the nutrition children need to be successful in school. Analyzing 16 years of American diets, Tufts researchers recently found that school meals had better nutrition quality than meals eaten anywhere else. Healthful school meals prepare students to enter the workforce, setting them up for jobs in science, technology, business and other emerging fields. When children don’t have access to healthful meals, hunger and malnutrition can take a toll on their overall health, mental well-being and school success.

When more children are eating school meals, it stimulates local economies, drives local food purchases from farmers and ranchers and creates well-paying jobs in school nutrition, food production, sales and distribution. More school meals served means improved school production and service facilities, which will generate job growth in foodservice equipment manufacturing, facility engineering, construction and maintenance. This commitment aligns with the focus of the Academy's Strategic Plan.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will:

  • Pursue legislative and regulatory strategies to increase access to healthy school meals for all including safeguarding strong nutrition standards, supporting nutrition education, improving school meal preparation infrastructure and providing adequate training and technical assistance to school nutrition professionals.
  • Collaborate with other national nutrition and anti-hunger organizations, champion the development and dissemination of a social media toolkit to promote strategies to achieve Healthy School Meals for All at the state and federal levels.
  • As members of the United Nations World Food Program School Meals Coalition, seek funding to conduct research on the benefits and challenges to providing high-quality school meals particularly to those school age children who are from low-income households or are the most vulnerable due to health, environmental and disparity risk.