Nutrition Security and National Investment

Why National Nutrition?

We can improve public health, advance health equity, free up federal dollars, and strengthen our military and economy in one fell swoop.

According to an expert group of former government leaders, former federal agency staff, and top scientists, the answer is to revolutionize research into one of the most basic parts of our daily lives: food.

Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group includes Dean Dariush Mozaffarian of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, former Senator Tom Harkin, Bipartisan Policy Center chief medical advisor Anand Parekh, and a number of scientists, scholars, and former National Institutes of Health staffers.

In a white paper released in July 2020, the council evaluated the health, equity, security, and sustainability burdens that diet-related disease is placing on our nation, and identifies opportunities for federal nutrition research to rise to meet them.

Watch a video about the call for greater nutrition research featuring audio from a Bipartisan Policy Center event on the topic. Video: Jandro Cisneros

"...We don’t have another fifty years to learn all we need to know. We need to start now."

As one of the nation’s leading institutions on nutrition science and policy, the Friedman School is proud to be a part of this national conversation. Dr. Jean Mayer founded the school more than forty years ago on the notion of combining strong science with action. Our mission is to generate trusted science, future leaders, and public impact—this initiative combines all of that.

The Friedman School has convened an impressive group of experts and organizations around this effort. The coauthors of our white paper, released today, represent a broad range of expertise that highlights the depth and importance of this effort. We are also bringing together major advocacy, professional, and academic organizations to support this call for strengthening and accelerating federal nutrition research, which were announced at a virtual event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on July 15.

Additionally, earlier this year, nearly forty major businesses, start-up companies, and nonprofit organizations in the Food & Nutrition Innovation Council at the Friedman School put out a consensus statement [PDF] calling for a national strategy and evaluation to coordinate and strengthen federal nutrition research.

One more party is involved: you. Food and nutrition touch almost every aspect of our lives, and they represent one of the most fundamental opportunities we have to improve our lives and ability to withstand acute crises like COVID-19.

a grid of 9 burdens that the food system currently contributes to
a grid showing 12 opportunities if we fix our food system

Selected graphics from the executive summary of the white paper released in July 2020. Designs courtesy Ink & Pixel

Progess Toward a Nourished Future

After the white paper’s release in July 2020, the volume for the call to action has been increasing with every new voice who joins the chorus. The term “Nutrition Security” gained momentum as a way to describe the state of a well-nourished population, not just a well-fed public.  Dean of the Friedman School, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, recently spoke before a United States Senate committee (November 2, 2021) in support of a bipartisan bill to convene a second national White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health.

Introduced by U.S. Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Mike Braun of Indiana and U.S. Representatives James P. McGovern of Massachusetts and Jackie Walorski of Indiana, the bill proposes building on the work of the first White House conference in 1969, which led to the creation and expansion of programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program.

“It’s time to bring everyone together again to reimagine our national food system...”

Mozaffarian has long called for change in our food system and federal nutrition strategy. He convened a Federal Nutrition Policy Advisory Group that is urging a nutrition “moonshot,” laid out in their white paper advocating greater investment and coordination in federal nutrition research. Mozaffarian also led the Friedman School in co-hosting a 2019 nutrition symposium with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to mark the half-century anniversary of the 1969 nutrition conference.

“It’s been 52 years since the nation came together to chart a national strategy around food and nutrition. Much has changed in 52 years,” Mozaffarian said Tuesday in his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research. “It’s time to bring everyone together again to reimagine our national food system for the next 50 years.”