Frequent family meals have consistently been associated with better health outcomes in children. It should come as no surprise that USDA nutrition employees were one of the first groups within our Department to formally convene around our new USDA Strategic Goals. That’s why USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) hosted a first-of-its-kind USDA Intra-Departmental Nutrition Workshop Series. More than 70 staff from across the Department participated, with the goal of maximizing USDA nutrition-relevant agencies’ individual and collective abilities to ensure data-driven approaches to provide Americans with safe, nutritious, and secure food.
Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting Chief Scientist, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE) and Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Mr. Brandon Lipps, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) and Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) kicked off the Workshop Series. Both provided inspirational and practical ways for the Workshop participants to work together to live out our motto of doing right and feeding everyone. In addition, Mr. Donald Bice, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration and Associate Director of the Office of Budget and Program Analysis (OBPA), provided an excellent overview of the new USDA Strategic Goals.
The Workshop Series featured panel discussions and small group exercises focused on working better together and sharpening the focus on the links between nutrition and food safety. The groups also discussed ways to maximize big data and use data-driven approaches to encourage healthy food choices.
OCS uses these innovative convening activities to help support our larger goals of scientific prioritization and coordination across the entire Department. Our nutrition community has several rich examples of existing coordinated activities to build on and learn from including the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research (ICHNR), Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), and USG Global Nutrition Coordination Plan (GNCP). These examples, among others, illustrate how interconnected we are and how the work of one of our agencies, offices, or centers complements or informs the work of another. As Dr. Dionne Toombs, OCS Director, noted during the Workshop, “wonderful things can be achieved through teamwork and working towards enhanced collaboration.”