Fuel for the Future: Addressing Food and Nutrition Security

NACDD’s Center for Advancing Healthy Communities is proud to be implementing programs that support communities, states, and territories alike in equitably and sustainably impacting food and nutrition security

Impact Brief CEO Message – March 2023

March is National Nutrition Month. The theme this year is Fuel for the Future. Never has there been a more critical time in our history to look at healthy food and nutrition for the future. According to the USDA, more than 34 million people, including nine million children, in the United States are food insecure. The COVID-19 pandemic only increased these numbers due to rising levels of unemployment, reduced income, and limited access to school nutrition programs because of school closures. NACDD’s Center for Advancing Healthy Communities is proud to be implementing programs that support communities, states, and territories alike in equitably and sustainably impacting food and nutrition security. These programs also are in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

The Building Resilient Inclusive Communities (BRIC) program is working with 20 states, who in turn have collectively engaged more than 60 communities, to address food and nutrition security, improve safe physical activity access, and enhance social connectedness through a policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change lens. For example, the State Department of Health in Hawaii supported WIC and SNAP EBT expansion at farmer’s markets. They worked with the Hawaii Farmer’s Market Association and leveraged SNAP-Ed funding along with BRIC funding to create and host trainings on SNAP/WIC expansion and provide mini-grants to markets. As a result, 24 farmers markets in areas with a high percentage of low-income individuals now access SNAP or WIC.  Learn more by contacting BRICinfo@chronicdisease.org.

  • The Public Health AmeriCorps (PHA) program supports the recruitment, training, and development of the next generation of public health leaders. In collaboration with BRIC, the first year of the program will engage 20 Service Members across 10 BRIC states to support existing state- and community-level action in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in South Carolina, a Service Member will provide assistance to the local Foodshare member hubs and work to expand distribution and promotion of food boxes to community members in underserved areas. Learn more about bringing this program and Service Members to your state by contacting Dr. Pascale Edouard at pedouard@chronicdisease.org

The State Partnerships Improving Nutrition & Equity (SPINE) program is working with nine states to address food and nutrition security through sustainable and equitable actions that tackle economic and social conditions limiting food and nutrition security across the lifespan through a PSE change lens. For example, Michigan is partnering with five local food councils to increase their capacity to engage in policy advocacy to improve food environments at the community level. Following participation in a community of practice, food councils will have created an advocacy agenda for at least one PSE change identified and defined by the community. Learn more by contacting Charita James at cjames_ic@chronicdisease.org.

The Supports to Advance Emotional Well-Being in Schools program supports school districts in developing evidence-based policies, practices, and programs related to the emotional well-being of students and staff. A growing body of research demonstrates the connection between food insecurity and mental and behavioral health for both children and adults. According to the Food Research & Action Center, food insecurity is strongly correlated to higher levels of anxiety and irritability among children. Additionally, teens experiencing hunger are more likely to have difficulty getting along with peers, get suspended from school, see a psychologist, have suicidal tendencies, and struggle with depression, as compared to their food-secure peers. Learn more about bringing this program to your state by contacting Heidi Milby at hmilby@chronicdisease.org.

The Walkability Action Institute (WAI) program brings together some of the nation’s best subject matter experts across disciplines such as planning, transportation, elected officials, parks and recreation, economic development, racial/ethnic equity, and disability inclusion. The goal is to help teams across the country influence walkability, movability, and community/transportation design through macro-level PSE change strategies. Place affects health; community design either promotes or prohibits one’s ability to actively travel (walk, bike, move, or take transit) to everyday destinations including grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and other food outlets. Designing communities that provides safe access to everyday destinations, like sources of food, not only helps increase physical activity, but provides a better place to live and improves health equity. Over the last eight years, the WAI has worked with 77 teams across 32 states to collectively achieve 876 walkability-related outcomes. Learn more about bringing this program to your state by contacting Karma Edwards, kedwards_ic@chronicdisease.org.

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