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Nutrition Security

FNS Staff Recall Highlights from White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

Like many of our USDA colleagues across the country, federal staff from the Food and Nutrition Service were glued in last week to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Many attended in-person to contribute ideas and host the event alongside White House staff, and hundreds more tuned in virtually. It was a day to remember, filled with excitement and a renewed commitment to the important work our agency does to improve food and nutrition security.

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health: What it Means to Me

It’s an exciting day in the country as we kickoff the second, historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. It’s been more than 50 years since the last conference, which produced impactful, meaningful changes to improve USDA nutrition assistance programs, including SNAP, WIC, and school meals – all programs from which my family and I personally benefitted from when I was a child. Today, we are coming together to work towards ending hunger and reducing diet-related diseases and disparities in the U.S. by 2030. Meeting this challenge will take the whole country. I hope you join this effort.

Liberation Farms - Food Justice in Action

It’s eight in the morning, and farmers with hand hoes and buckets have been here for two hours already, weeding and watering their plots before the heat of the day. Over 200 members of the Somali Bantu community of Lewiston, Maine, make the short drive out to Liberation Farms a few times each week to tend their crops. Visitors to our farm often comment on how few weeds they spot between stalks of corn. It’s not magic, we tell them: our farmers are constantly in friendly competition to see who can have the best-looking plot.

Nutritionists: The Link to Nutrition Security

They called the next participant; a woman and her child exited the waiting area to meet at my desk. I introduced myself and asked, “How are you doing today?” She reluctantly answered, “good” with disinterest in her eyes. I detected a Spanish accent which prompted me to ask which language she preferred to conduct the appointment in. She immediately perked up and replied, “I’m so happy you speak Spanish… my English is not good.”

Ensuring Equal Access to Food Assistance is Our Responsibility

Discrimination in any form is unacceptable, and we cannot allow it to prevent a hungry person from getting the food they need.  At USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), we work to ensure that all those who are eligible for USDA’s nutrition assistance programs have equal access and opportunity to participate in the help that we offer through partner organizations around the country.

The Food Basket’s DA BUX Program Prioritizes Nutrition Education for Hawaiʻi’s Children

The Food Basket-Hawai‘i Island’s Food Bank took its first stride in creating place-based nutrition education resources for Hawai‘i’s keiki (the Hawaiian word for children). Launched in 2021, the book Kai and Hōkū Explore Foods of Hawaiʻi helps families and early childcare providers explore local fruits and vegetables with their children. It features the popular mascots, Kai and Hōkū, of the Keiki Heroes public health initiative as they learn about eight crops commonly grown in Hawai‘i, including ‘ulu (breadfruit) and kāpiki pākē (bok choy). The book offers hands-on learning activities and simple recipes, making each fruit and vegetable an exciting adventure and valuable learning experience for young food explorers.

Colorado’s Agencies Create Recipe Frameworks for Communities through the Healthy Corner Store Partnership

Small community-based stores, such as corner stores, are convenient places to shop for simple food items. However, smaller stores often have limited inventory – especially for nutritious options. Cooking Matters Colorado and Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center’s School Wellness Programs engaged with three corner stores in Denver to pilot a SNAP-Ed campaign designed to improve healthy eating. The campaign focused on step-by-step recipe frameworks and offered supportive, educational, and practical examples for a flexible approach to recipes that better resonate with community members. Recipe frameworks are rooted in the understanding that recipes do not need to be followed exactly but can serve as a general formula to be adjusted according to budget, needs, and preferences.

FNS Honors Traditions and Supports the Sovereignty of Tribal Nations

Tribal nations across what we now consider the Great Plains relied for millennia on their buffalo relatives for food, medicine, clothing, tools, and shelter. Yet today it is hard to find buffalo meat on school meal trays in the very areas where they once sustained Native communities. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is working with tribal partners to figure out why and to remove the barriers we can.

USDA Celebrates 30th Anniversary of SNAP-Ed at a California School

In honor of the 30th Anniversary of SNAP-Ed, Western Regional Administrator, Jesus Mendoza, Jr., and I attended Rosemary Elementary School in Campbell, CA. The local SNAP-Ed team – which is officially referred to as CalFresh Healthy Living – led a presentation on nutrition education and discussed the importance of every kid eating well-balanced meals.