NEWS Interagency Collaboration Explores the Intersection Between Nutrition Security and Behavioral Health

Interagency Collaboration Explores the Intersection Between Nutrition Security and Behavioral Health

By Gina O’Brian, Regional Chief Dietitian for Food and Nutrition Nutrition Security, USDA Food and Nutrition Service

January 12, 2023

The Mountain Plains region of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is in its third year of partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to promote food and mood programs.

The link between consistent access to nutritious food sources and child/adolescent behavioral health is well documented. The Food and Mood Project’s goal is to promote behavioral health and reduce the impact of mental health and substance use problems by identifying and implementing strategies that address The intersection between nutritional security and behavioral health.

The Food & Mood project kicks off in January 2021 with the Food & Mood Town Hall. This resulted in a series of learning collaborations with state and community behavioral health, education, nutrition, food insecurity and related experts working in the Union Mountain Plains regional office and the SAMSHA region. Two of the strategies the organization supports are the USDA’s Farm-to-School Program and the CDC’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model to promote adolescent emotional health and address behavioral health issues, including those related to food insecurity Problems related to lack of access to culturally diverse foods.

Going forward, the Food and Mood Project team will continue to review relevant research, identify and share best practice, and showcase work under the Food and Mood pillar:

  • fair access to resources – Provide flexible funding to enable equitable access to nutritious, culturally appropriate food and emotional health-related services.
  • Multidisciplinary Community Engagement – Changing perceptions of mental health at the community level relate to social determinants of health.
  • Comprehensive and culturally contextual curriculum – Implement culturally appropriate food and emotional learning opportunities, or programs that promote food and emotional wellbeing.
  • Inclusive, normative public dialogue – Reducing the stigma behind food and emotional health through public education, national campaigns, and thoughtful public dialogue.
food and nutrition nutrition security

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