Developing, Translating, and Enacting Nutrition Science Through Partnership
USDA leverages the latest nutrition science to improve policy, systems, and environments for all Americans. We collaborate with health professionals, food and retailer industries, and other key stakeholders to advance nutrition research that considers culturally diverse perspectives of food and health.
Updating and building the evidence base for dietary guidance
- All Life Stages
- The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and its partners at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regularly update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs)—which forms the basis of Federal nutrition policy, education, outreach, and food assistance—to reflect the latest nutrition science. The 2025–2030 edition of the DGAs will be released by the end of 2025.
- The USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR) team within the FNS Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion supports the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in conducting systematic reviews of the literature to help form the science-base of the guidelines.
- The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) makes public-use datasets for its major studies available to the research community. FNS partners with agencies such as the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area of USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support additional policy-focused analysis and demonstration work to advance nutrition security through the Federal nutrition assistance programs.
- The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supports the development of dietary guidance for all subpopulations, especially infants, children, underserved populations and populations at increased risk of chronic disease. ARS also maintains a database of the nutritional composition of approximately 500,000 foods commonly consumed by Americans. The database is publicly accessible and used by government agencies, the food industry, and the public.
Translating the latest DGA into information consumers can use
- School-Age Children
- All Life Stages
- MyPlate.gov offers a suite of digital tools to help meet consumers where they are. The MyPlate Quiz available in English and in Spanish evaluates how a person’s eating habits stack up against the Dietary Guidelines recommendations and provides tailored resources based on the person’s answers. Results of the quiz can be synched with the free Start Simple with MyPlate app that helps users set simple, daily food group goals. For a more specific plan based on a person’s age, weight, height and activity level, consumers can receive a personalized MyPlate Plan that provides what and how much to eat from each of the five food groups.
- As a resource to help make food dollars go farther, the Shop Simple with MyPlate web-based tool helps Americans save money on groceries and discover new ways to prepare healthy foods based on MyPlate. SNAP participants can enter their zip code into the tool to quickly find nearby and online retailers, and farmers markets that accept SNAP EBT, as well as healthy eating incentive programs.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) collaborates with many sectors in the community to amplify nutrition messages. In several States, Rethink Your Drink projects provide social marketing and educational resources to healthcare providers, schools, and other community organizations to align messaging and to create an environment that supports healthier drink choices.
- The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) educates consumers about the importance of safe food handling and how to reduce the risks associated with foodborne illness. The Meat and Poultry Hotline is a free resource for food safety questions. USDA also maintains the Foodkeeper mobile app and shares food safety information, such as recalls and public health alerts, through social media and the FSIS website.
- Nutrition.gov offers credible, actionable nutrition information and tips from federal and cooperative extension sources to help consumers make healthful eating choices in alignment with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Equipping child nutrition program operators
- Mothers, Infants, and Young Children
- The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Team Nutrition initiative recently released four new meal pattern training slide decks for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The training presentation are designed for interactive 30-minute trainings for use by State agencies, sponsoring organizations, and others to train providers, operators, and menu planners on the CACFP meal pattern requirements. Team Nutrition has 21 total slide decks available on a variety of hot topics in CACFP, available in both English and Spanish.
- Team Nutrition will soon release two key CACFP menu planning resources to support the provision of nutritious meals to children 3–5 and 6–18 years. These resources will include 80 new recipes for child care, which will be available in Spanish and English. Recipes will be available in Team Nutrition’s recipe collection, as well as the Institute of Child Nutrition’s Child Nutrition Recipe Box.
- School-Age Children
- Team Nutrition
- USDA’s Team Nutrition Initiative provides training, technical assistance, meal planning resources, and grants to enable Child Nutrition program operators to prepare and serve nutritious meals that appeal to students. Team Nutrition will soon release an updated whole grains resource for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
- Through the Team Nutrition Training Grant Program, FNS works with State agencies to implement training programs that improve the quality and variety of school meals. Several grant cohorts are working on expanding and evaluating interventions to improve the quality of school meals (FY 2019), develop school meal recipes that use local agricultural products (FY 2021), and training school nutrition professionals to implement new meal pattern standards (FY 2022). In FY 2021, Team Nutrition awarded $5.5 million in grants to help 21 States increase local foods in school meals. FNS awarded over $7 million for the FY 2022 grants.
- The Child Nutrition Recipe Box provides program operators with recipes to prepare healthy and delicious meals that meet school nutrition requirements.
- Team Nutrition’s Food Buying Guide for child nutrition programs, also known as the FBG, has been around for about 70 years and continues to be one of Team Nutrition’s most popular resources. The FBG aims to assist child nutrition program operators in two major ways: (1) helps operators determine how much food to purchase for meals and snacks; and (2) helps operators determine how each food counts toward meal pattern requirements. The FBG provides yield data for more than 2,100 foods and has been transformed from a printed publication to an interactive web-based tool and mobile application for smartphones and tablets. The FBG mobile app was the agency’s first public-facing mobile application. and has amassed more than 37,500 downloads and visitors from more than 73 countries since it launched in 2018. Team Nutrition also provides free, online FBG training modules, which help program operators better understand and navigate the FBG.
- Team Nutrition’s web quizzes are available on a variety of child nutrition program-related topics, such as infant nutrition, toddler nutrition, meal components, school lunch, older adult nutrition and school gardening. These web quizzes are a fun and interactive way for program operators to test their knowledge and build nutrition skills. Select quizzes are available in Spanish.
- Team Nutrition and ICN
- Team Nutrition and the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) provide webinars, virtual instructor-led trainings, and in-person trainings to support child nutrition program operators with meal planning and nutrition standards. In FY 2021, Team Nutrition and ICN provided trainings to more than 49,600 child nutrition program operators and administrators through 356 training opportunities.
- USDA FNS worked cooperatively with ICN to create the Culinary Institute of Child Nutrition (CICN). The goal of CICN is to increase culinary skills of school nutrition professionals through culinary trainings and resources that help them prepare and serve healthy, culinary-inspired school meals from scratch, elevating the cafeteria atmosphere. The CICN currently offers monthly culinary webinars, culinary how-to videos, podcasts, and more. Additional culinary resources and trainings are being developed.
- To help schools meet the updated school meal nutrition standards, Team Nutrition and ICN released a collection of sodium reduction training materials on the Shaking It Up! website, including training worksheets, videos, and posters. Online learning courses to support sodium reduction are also being developed.
- Team Nutrition
Working with industry to help tailor products to our programs
- School-Age Children
- The food industry plays a critical role in strengthening access to nutritious foods for school meals. To help facilitate updates to the school meal standards, FNS engages with industry to support the production of nutritious foods for the K–12 market, including, for example, products meeting the updated targets for sodium and whole grains.
- USDA purchased about 1.5 billion pounds of USDA Foods for schools in FY21. USDA Foods are high quality, nutritious, and 100% American grown, processed, and packed. USDA works collaboratively with industry to develop specifications for foods that support USDA nutrition standards. These foods provide versatile, budget-friendly options for schools to incorporate into appealing, healthy meals. Options include a wide variety of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables; a variety of nutrient-dense protein options such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, cheese, nuts, and eggs; and a variety of whole grain options including cereals, flour, pasta, rice, and tortillas.
- Through McGovern-Dole, USDA administered the Micronutrient Fortified Food Aid Pilot Project from 2013 to 2017 to develop specialized nutritious products for school meals and snacks in low and lower-middle income countries. New products developed included a fortified poultry spread, a dairy paste, a lipid-based nutrient supplement, fortified rice, and new fortified, blended foods. Currently, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), USDA is supporting a shelf-life study of fortified rice in harsh field conditions. USDA manages the U.S. Government’s food aid commodities list, and USDA and USAID collaborate on joint food aid product issues, including product development, food safety, and specification updates.
- In October 2022, USDA hosted the National Nutrition Security and Healthcare Summit with the goals of: 1) celebrating and showcasing what the healthcare sector is already doing to help advance nutrition security; (2) identifying existing and potentially stronger intersections with USDA’s equities; and (3) raising awareness about opportunities to help USDA advance nutrition security. It featured remarks from USDA Secretary Vilsack, HHS Secretary Becerra, Chairman McGovern, former Representative Herrera Beutler, and healthcare sector leaders leaning into nutrition security. Guests included more than 200 representatives from across the healthcare sector, among other key communities including Congressional staff and the media. To further the conversation, ProMedica and the Root Cause Coalition will be hosting seven regional summits across the country in 2023 and early 2024.
- All Life Stages
- Our MyPlate National Strategic partnership program provides an opportunity for national organizations from every sector to join together to promote MyPlate.