BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are influential in shaping federal food and nutrition policy, procurement and education initiatives that affect our children’s understanding of what constitutes “good food” and their overall health and well-being.
With the 2015 guidelines, there’s opportunity to advance healthy equity and incorporate new recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), a scientific body that advises USDA and HHS on the guidelines. For the first time ever, the DGAC has put forth recommendations on sustainable agriculture and drinking water for which communities have long advocated.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports the DGAC’s recommendations that help reduce disparity gaps in low-income and communities of color, and promote multi-pronged approaches that address healthy food access, opportunities for physical activity, parent engagement and nutrition education.
The Kellogg Foundation is especially pleased with two new recommendations: the inclusion of sustainable agriculture for plant and animal-based food production in the dietary guidelines; and the establishment of healthy food environments that make water a preferred beverage choice and readily available in school, childcare and other public settings.
The dietary guidelines are of critical importance to children’s health, providing a foundation for children’s learning about nutrition, and informing standards for the National School Lunch Program. They ultimately would impact 30.7 million children a day in schools and child care settings, including 21.5 million children on free or reduced price meals who are living in households that earn 185 percent or less of the federal poverty level.
Federal nutrition assistance programs benefiting millions of children, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) also are influenced by the dietary guidelines.
The public comment period for dietary guidelines has been extended to May 8, 2015, providing an opportunity to lend our voices to this important blueprint for the health of our children and our nation.
The Kellogg Foundation has long held that good nutrition requires “good food” – food that is healthy, fair (ensuring humane wages and working conditions for all along the food chain), equitable (physically and financially accessible to all), culturally appropriate and sustainably produced. These values at last have a good chance of being a fundamental part of our nation’s dietary guidelines. Sustainable agriculture integrates the economic, environmental and social aspects of food production, benefiting everyone, including kids, families, farmers and local communities.
WKKF also supports dietary guidelines that make water a preferred beverage choice, encouraging kids to drink more water and making it readily available in childcare settings, schools and public places. Increasing access to and consumption of drinking water will support our children’s health and learning.
On behalf of the Kellogg Foundation and as president and CEO, I applaud communities and advocates who have worked tirelessly to inform these new recommendations. I look forward to the day when all children have an equal opportunity to access food and water that contributes to their health and well-being, and I support dietary guidelines that help us get there.
Download a fact sheet on the dietary guidelines that includes information on submitting your comments to USDA and HHS.