NACDD to Grant Nearly $1.3 Million to Nine States for the State Partnerships Improving Nutrition and Equity (SPINE) Program

NACDD to Grant Nearly $1.3 Million to Nine States for the State Partnerships Improving Nutrition and Equity (SPINE) Program


CONTACT: Scott Reid

ATLANTA (Jan. 24, 2022) — The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) is offering $144,275 grants to nine select states as part of its newly established State Partnerships Improving Nutrition Equity (SPINE) program.
The SPINE program, which launched Jan. 1, 2022, aims to address food and nutrition security through sustainable and equitable actions that tackle economic and social conditions limiting food and nutrition security across the life span.
The nine states selected to receive support are Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Oklahoma.
The program sits within NACDD’s recently launched Center for Advancing Healthy Communities (CAHC), which works to foster healthy communities for all by advancing health equity and eliminating social barriers. The Center and the SPINE program both are extensions of work NACDD has done for decades at the state level to foster community resiliency, social justice, and disability inclusion.
“Promoting beneficial state partnerships and addressing food and nutrition equity across the lifespan are critical actions to address immediate needs for food and nutrition security,” said Jennie Hefelfinger, MS, Director of CAHC. “Social determinants of health and root causes create inequities that must be addressed if we are to foster healthy communities and advance social justice.”
In collaboration with the funders, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO), and a team of subject matter experts, the CAHC is supporting State Health Departments in leveraging cross-sector partnerships to improve sustainable and equitable access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food across the lifespan. Health equity is foundational to the SPINE program and will be integrated throughout the planning, action, and evaluation stages, in addition to considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NACDD is working with the nine SPINE states to build and implement sustainable partnerships, programs, and services into existing efforts, especially in communities with populations at high risk (Black people, Latinx, American Indians/Native Americans, young children, aging adults, and people with disabilities). States will receive augmented support, including tailored and extensive training and technical assistance (T/TA), to increase food and nutrition security, reach populations at high risk, and address health equity.
In addition to Hefelfinger, CAHC leadership includes Associate Director Vishwarupa (Vish) Vasani, MPH. The SPINE program’s staff also includes two newly hired Public Health Consultants: Charita James MS, RD (she/her) and Patrilie Hernandez, MS (she/they). James is a Registered Dietitian with more than 10 years of diverse experiences in the public health nutrition realm. She applies a culturally responsive approach to her work and brings expertise in community nutrition, food justice, and food and nutrition security to the SPINE program. Hernandez possesses more than 14 years of professional experience that has shaped their understanding of health and nutrition as not only individual pursuits, but how these things seamlessly intersect with our built environment, equity, and social justice. During the past decade, Hernandez’s work in nutrition has broadened to address the other social determinants of health that influence individual and community well-being.
“We are excited to continue to support State and Territorial Health Departments in their journey to address root causes of health, particularly through the SPINE program,” said John W. Robitscher, MPH, NACDD’s CEO.


The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors

Promoting Health. Preventing Disease.

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and its more than 7,000 Members seek to strengthen state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control in states and nationally. Established in 1988, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NACDD is the only membership association of its kind to serve and represent every chronic disease division in all states and U.S. territories. For more information, visit

Careers at NACDD

You are exiting NACDD’s website to enter a third-party site