Editorial urges bold action for equitable access to nutrition assistance by all

Dec 20, 2023

More Americans are now sick with diet-related conditions than are well. In the American Journal of Public Health's special issue on "Policies and Strategies to Increase Equitable Access to Family Nutrition," Lorrene Ritchie and Wendi Gosliner of the Nutrition Policy Institute advocate for bold action to improve the health and diets of all Americans. Their editorial entitled “Bold Action Needed for Equitable Access to Nutrition Assistance by All” along with the supporting research featured in the special issue emphasize that while federal nutrition assistance helps one in four Americans and over half of school-aged children, more needs to be done to address food and financial insecurity and improve the diet and health of Americans. Ritchie and Gosliner suggest that, “Currently the nutrition assistance programs conflate two separate issues, one involving people facing poverty with inadequate resources to secure adequate food and the other involving structural supports to the food system and societal norms that facilitate abundant access to and promotion of relatively cheap and unhealthy options, leading to poor diets being the status quo.” They recommend rethinking nutrition assistance's role in combating poverty, suggesting income and housing support, and separately, restructuring federal nutrition assistance programs to support healthy food consumption for all, like providing school meals for all K-12 students, and restructuring retail food environments to create new healthy norms. The special issue and editorial were published online on December 20, 2023.

By Danielle Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Wendi Gosliner
Editor - Project scientist
By Lorrene D Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist