NIFA’s Nutrition Security Webinar Series
Join USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for its new virtual Nutrition Security Webinar Series. The series will feature speakers across a range of backgrounds and disciplines as they lead discussions about nutrition security during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
BackgroundFood and Nutrition Security in the United States
During the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic ramifications, an unprecedented number of Americans face food insecurity, despite the abundance of food produced and available across the United States. Indeed, the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) reported food insecurity affected 10.5 percent of the U.S. population at some point in 2019, down from a peak of 14.9 percent in 2011; illustrating the length of time—about eight years—that it took to return to pre-recession (2007) levels. Food insecurity is now estimated to have jumped to the highest level in decades, affecting over 20 percent of Americans (approximately 1 in 4 households). Both before and during the pandemic, Black, Latinx, and Native Americans, as well as people living in rural and lower-income counties suffer the greatest disparities in food insecurity and associated diet-related chronic diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, and diabetes.
Now, diet-related chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in our country. Food insecurity also creates enormous strain on worker productivity, healthcare spending, and military readiness. Addressing food and nutrition insecurity is interrelated with challenges and opportunities with our agricultural and food systems. That is, U.S. agriculture faces growing environmental challenges such as resource scarcity, loss of biodiversity, and soil degradation. These sustainability issues have direct relevance for human health, increasing the risk of food insecurity and diet-related chronic diseases. Thus, we need to accelerate a transformation of our food system so that every American is given a chance to live a healthy, productive life and reach their full potential.
NIFA’s Nutrition Security Related ActivitiesNIFA supports nutrition security, defined as having consistent access, availability, and affordability of foods and beverages that promote well-being and prevent (and if needed, treat) disease, particularly among our nation’s most socially disadvantaged populations. Promoting nutrition security is a critical ingredient to containing the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring racial justice and equity, rebuilding the rural economy, addressing the impacts of climate change, providing open markets and fair trade, and reinvigorating a competitive workforce. For fiscal year 2021, NIFA is estimated to invest more than $122.1 million to promote nutrition security, through the following 5 key programs:
- Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)
- Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP)
- Community Food Projects (CFP)
- Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program (FASLP)
- Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) competitive grants program A1344 Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases.
- 4-H Youth Development Program
- 1890 Land-Grant Institution Programs
- Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans (AgVets)
- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)
- Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program
- CYFAR 4-H Military Partnership Professional Development & Technical Assistance (CMPC-PDTA)
- Federally-Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP)
- National Center for Home Food Preservation
- Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program (HSI)
- Master Gardener Program, as well as Master Health and Master Food Preserver Programs
- New Technologies for Ag Extension (NTAE)
- Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)
- Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDC)
- Rural Health & Safety Education (RHSE) Program
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program
- Economics, Markets, and Trade.
NIFA’s External Engagement EffortsNIFA has used a variety of formats such as NIFA Listens, Calls to Conversation Meeting Series, and Project CAFÉ (Collaboratively Achieving Functional Excellence) to share agency overviews and gather external insights on a range of topics, including food insecurity.
WEBINARSNIFA launched the series with a June 24 webinar featuring an introduction from NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille. Panelists from the NIFA Nutrition Security Team shared an overview of the agency’s current and future contributions to help accelerate prioritizing nutrition security both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. A live Q&A discussion featured questions from an audience of over 200 attendees.
More details will be announced on future NIFA Nutrition Security webinars. We invite anyone interested in learning more about NIFA’s efforts in nutrition security to register for upcoming webinars, or view past recordings: