March 24, 2022
In a speech at Columbia University, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack laid out a vision of nutrition security and the Agriculture Department’s actions to promote the concept. Vilsack contrasted nutrition security to food security, which focuses on the quantity and steady supply of food available to Americans. Nutrition security, according to Vilsack, builds on food security and means consistent access to healthy, safe, affordable food in order to optimize health.
In tandem with Vilsack’s speech, USDA released a report entitled “USDA Actions on Nutrition Security.” An accompanying infographic illustrates the administration’s strategy for nutrition security, which Vilsack said rests on four pillars:
Vilsack did not make major new programmatic announcements in the speech, but connected various ongoing USDA grant programs, regulatory initiatives and research to his theme of nutrition security. These include:
The COVID-19 pandemic, Vilsack said, illustrated the linkage between nutrition security and health. Two-thirds of hospitalizations for COVID were of people affected by obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. He also noted that poor nutrition is connected to the leading causes of illnesses that kill 600,000 Americans annually. Among these, type 2 diabetes alone adds $147 billion in health care and societal costs.
For video, photos and other resources, view Resources.