Developing, Translating, and Enacting Nutrition Science Through Partnership
USDA is working to integrate nutrition science into policy, systems, and environments to set people up for success. In doing so, we are collaborating with health professionals, the food and retailer industries, and other key stakeholders to create and maximize partnerships that leverage nutrition science in increasingly culturally relevant and contextually sensitive ways.
Updating and building the evidence base for dietary guidance
- All Life Stages
- The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and its partners at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regularly update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)—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 DGA will be released by the end of 2025. As we work toward that goal, we recognize that American dietary guidance has historically been built on a population-wide approach, with little distinction between the needs of specific subpopulations and life stages. Therefore, we are exploring existing opportunities and new research investments to enhance our understanding of the diversity of nutritional needs and their relationship to health.
- The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide advice on what to eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health, and prevent disease. It is developed and written for a professional audience, including policymakers, healthcare providers, nutrition educators, and Federal nutrition program operators. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) work together to update and release the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every 5 years. Each edition reflects the current body of nutrition science.
- USDA and HHS developed the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR) team supports the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in conducting systematic reviews of the literature to help form the science-base of the guidelines.
- The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) continues to make public-use datasets for its major studies available to the research community and works with its intra-departmental partner agencies such as the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area of USDA, and inter-governmental partner agencies such as 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 supports the development of dietary guidance for all subpopulations, especially infants, children, underserved, 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 DGAs into information consumers can use
- School-Age Children
- All Life Stages
Effective nutrition education materials that enhance motivation and teach practical knowledge and skills can change behaviors. To be effective this education needs to meet people where they are with messages that are clear, relevant, and appropriate for the intended audience. Shop Simple with MyPlate is a web-based tool that helps Americans save money while shopping for healthy food choices. Consumers can use this tool to quickly find savings in their local area by entering their zip code and to discover new ways to prepare budget-friendly foods based on MyPlate, the consumer-friendly translation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) collaborates with many sectors in the community to amplify nutrition messages. In several States, the Rethink Your Drink projects are developing social marketing and educational resources for healthcare providers, schools, and other community organizations to implement consistent messaging and to create an environment that supports healthier drink choices.
- The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service 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 Food and Nutrition Services' (FNS) Team Nutrition initiative recently released four new training presentations for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). These presentations, available in English and Spanish, are interactive 30-minute trainings that can be used by State agencies, sponsoring organizations, and others to train providers, operators, and menu planners on the CACFP meal requirements.
- Team Nutrition recently released four new Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Meal Pattern Training Slide decks (available in English and Spanish) 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 patterns. Team Nutrition has 21 total slide decks available on a variety of hot topics in CACFP, available in both English and Spanish.
- This spring, Team Nutrition will release two key menu planning resources to support the provision of nutritious meals to children 3–5 and 6–18 years through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. These resources will include 80 new recipes for childcare, which will be available in Spanish and English. Recipes will be available on Team Nutrition’s Recipe Collection webpage, as well as on the Institute of Child Nutrition’s Child Nutrition Recipe Box webpage.
- School-Age Children
- 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 release an updated Whole Grains Resource for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs publication this spring that reflects the updated school meal nutrition standards.
- Through the Team Nutrition Training Grant Program, Food and Nutrition Service is working with State Child Nutrition agencies to implement training programs to 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 grant expected to be awarded in May 2022). In FY 2021, Team Nutrition awarded $5.5 million in grants to help 21 States increase local foods in school meals.
- The FY 2022 Team Nutrition Training Grants will be awarded to help States equip the school nutrition workforce to provide appealing and nutritious school meals that support the latest nutrition standards through mentoring, training, nutrition education, and more.
- USDA’s Team Nutrition Initiative has nutrition technical assistance tools and resources to assist Child Nutrition program operators with menu planning.
- 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; since its first release 4 years ago in January 2018, it has had more than 37,500 downloads and visitors from more than 73 countries. Team Nutrition is proud of its online FBG training modules, which are helping program operators better understand and navigate the FBG.
- Team Nutrition’s web quizzes (some in English and Spanish) 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.
- 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.
- Food and Nutrition Service worked cooperatively with the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) to create the Culinary Institute of Child Nutrition (CICN), to increase the culinary skills of school nutrition professionals through culinary trainings and resources to support school nutrition professionals in preparing and serving healthy, culinary-inspired school meals from scratch, elevating the cafeteria atmosphere. The CICN currently has available monthly culinary webinars, culinary how-to videos, podcasts, and more; additional culinary resources and trainings are being developed.
- To assist with sodium reduction in schools to meet the updated school meal nutrition standards, a collection of sodium reduction training materials, including training worksheets, videos, and posters have been released on the Shaking It Up! website. Online learning courses to support sodium reduction are being developed and will launch this summer and will be made available on the ICN’s iLearn Learning Management System.
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 is engaging 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.
- All Life Stages