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Food and Nutrition
Section Newsletter
Fall 2009

Message from the Chair

Beth Dixon, FNS ChairThis year has sped by – it is hard to believe that the Annual Meeting is right around the corner. We have an exciting program planned with many oral sessions co-sponsored with other sections in APHA. Please plan to attend our annual awards banquet on Sunday evening to congratulate longstanding members (Judy Wilson, Jay Hirschman, and Angela Odoms-Young) on their accomplishments, to meet the student (Renata Jacob) who received the highest score on her abstract, and to see friends and colleagues. I also want to encourage all members to attend our section business meetings on Saturday (5:30-7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (2-5 p.m.). There will be opportunities to listen to candidates for the APHA Executive Board, join in discussions about proposed policies for APHA, and learn about and participate in activities by the many committees that keep this organization active and vibrant. This will be the first Annual Meeting for the Breastfeeding Forum so please try to attend their activities, too. A schedule of all sessions and meetings is on the APHA Web site – a more detailed program will be available and sent to all members in mid-October. It is truly a packed program – I am especially grateful for the Program Committee chairs (Wendy Johnson-Askew, Alyssa Ghirardelli, Rachel Fisher) and the Awards Committee chairs (Marsha Spence, Katie Kavanagh) for all of their work in preparation for this annual event.


With the current administration, it is a very exciting time to be involved in policy discussions on food, nutrition and public health. Over the summer, members of our section were asked to comment on nutrition labeling on menu boards as part of federal legislation. The American Institute of Cancer Research contacted members of our section to discuss policy statements on diet, public health and cancer that are especially important to persons living in the United States. Members of our section continue to be involved with the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) in activities related to the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act. We have also been involved with the newly created Food and Environment Working Group and are discussing ways to improve the beverages and foods offered at future annual meetings. With this year’s annual theme of water, it is an excellent opportunity to encourage drinking tap water rather than adding plastic bottles to the environment.


At the end of the Annual Meeting, some new members in the Section will assume leadership positions for the next year. Congratulations to Deirdra Chester as chair-elect, Sonya Jones as secretary-elect, Marsha Spence and Candace Young as Section Councilors, and Noel Chavez as Governing Councilor. Each year in February we have nominations for open leadership positions – descriptions of these positions are on the APHA Web site. Please be sure to get in touch with the Section chair if you are interested in being nominated – we always welcome new leaders!


Like the larger APHA and many other professional organizations, our section is concerned about maintaining and increasing membership. Our membership size determines our budget from APHA, and we are presented with many more opportunities than we can possibly do in both time and money. All suggestions for increasing membership involvement and ways to raise outside funds are welcome.


This is my last contribution to the newsletter as chair, and I want to thank all members in FNS – your continued support of the Section is invaluable. I look forward to seeing many of you in Philadelphia!


Beth Dixon,

Chair, FNS

Get Ready to Advocate: Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act 2009

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act is an important opportunity to strengthen the federal school meal and child nutrition programs to improve access to quality, nutritious foods. Designed to improve food security in the United States, this legislation covers all federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Afterschool Snack and Meal Program, and WIC.  These programs reach millions of children and families every day.  While the child nutrition programs and WIC are permanently authorized, every five years Congress reviews the programs through a reauthorization process starting Sept. 30, 2009.  Given Congressional focus on numerous critical issues this fall, a short-term extension is expected that will delay the reauthorization process to 2010.


As public health and nutrition advocates, we have a long history of engaging in the reauthorization process to improve nutritional status and enhance food security for children and families. In addition, these programs can be leveraged to support a healthier food system. The purchasing power of meal programs has the potential to bolster regional food systems and the new WIC food package has spawned efforts to improve food offerings at smaller stores in underserved neighborhoods. Recognizing the potential for multiple benefits sets the stage for cross-sector collaboration to maximize benefits for child nutrition and health. A set of recommendations for reauthorization has emerged that builds on the expertise of the nutrition, public health, community food security, school food service and agricultural sectors:


Expand access to child nutrition programs.  The application process should be simplified for providers and parents; in cities with a high percentage of children that qualify for breakfast or lunch programs, a paperless model is a good option.  In addition, offering universal breakfast in schools and providing suppers in after-school programs will help ensure that all children eat three nutritious meals each day.


Improve the nutritional quality of children’s meals.  The Institute of Medicine is currently reviewing the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and will be making recommendations to update the nutrition standard and meal standards for the programs in October 2010. In the meantime, increasing reimbursement rates will help schools and providers keep up with the increased costs of procuring and preparing fresh and healthful foods.  To develop a skilled work force that can procure and prepare foods that are healthy and delicious, the reauthorization should include funding for training programs and technical assistance.


Strengthen nutrition standards for competitive foods.  Standards will be proposed to limit the sale of junk foods and sugar sweetened beverages on school grounds.  Through independent review in 2007, the Institute of Medicine report Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way toward Healthier Youth has recommended guidelines that are the gold standard for ensuring that school environments promote healthful food habits.


Strengthen nutrition education in schools.  Consistent, reliable funding will ensure that nutrition education and training is offered to all teaching staff, food service staff and students.


Increase the use of foods from regional food systems.  Farm to institution programs provide schools with the freshest, high-quality food available while supporting regional producers; establishing a farm to institution initiative within the Secretary of Agriculture’s Office will help to guide policies that support farm to institution across the country.  In addition, funding and technical assistance are needed to improve and evaluate school food procurement to support the local and regional procurement of school foods.


Maintain the quality and effectiveness of WIC.  Funding needs to be increased to meet the needs of all eligible women and children, particularly in light of the current economic times and rise in unemployment.  A new food package was finalized in December 2007 to provide purchasing power for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and culturally appropriate healthy choices; regulatory improvements to support the success of the new food package should be introduced.


For more information on Child Nutrition Reauthorization, go to:

2008-2009 APHA Food and Nutrition Section Awards

Catherine Cowell Award

Judy Wilson, RD, MSPHJudy Wilson, RD, MSPH, is the 2008-09 recipient of the Catherine Cowell Award, which was established in 1993 to honor Dr. Catherine Cowell’s contributions to the field of public health nutrition.  This award recognizes an individual who has exemplified excellence and achievement in administration, planning, mentoring, and team building in public health nutrition, including meeting the special needs of urban populations and young children.


Ms. Wilson’s early career included positions as a public health nutritionist in Detroit, Mich., and a clinical nutritionist and WIC Project Director in Newark, N.J., before beginning her work with the Washington, D.C. Department of Health and the USDA.  Currently, she is the Senior Nutrition Advisor, Office of Research and Analysis, USDA Food and Nutrition Service.  Last year, Ms. Wilson was the recipient of two USDA Secretary Honor Awards, one as the group leader for developing and implementing the State Nutrition Action Plan Process and the other as a group member for the Loving Your Family Feeding Their Future nutrition education initiative.  Ms. Wilson has been a member of APHA for more than 35 years, has been active as a Section Councilor, and has served on numerous committees, workgroups and taskforces.


Mary C. Egan Award

Jay Hirschman, MPH, CNSJay Hirschman, MPH, CNS, is the 2008-09 recipient of the Mary C. Egan Award, which was established in 1985 to honor Dr. Mary Egan, who had a major role in the development and implementation of the National WIC Program and the development of graduate training programs for health professionals working in maternal and child health.  This award recognizes an individual’s professional contributions and outstanding services for development of new approaches in public health nutrition, mentoring, nutrition education and addressing special nutrition needs.


Mr. Hirschman, a past chair of the APHA Food and Nutrition Section (2003-2004), began his career as the first public health nutritionist in Cleveland County, N.C., where he established the county’s WIC Program.  He has worked for the USDA since 1984 and currently is the Staff Director, Special Nutrition Staff at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Research and Analysis.  In this leadership position, he is responsible for management of staff conducting evaluation studies and policy analysis for all domestic Special Nutrition Programs, including WIC, the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the other Child Nutrition Programs, and the Food Distribution Programs.


Excellence in Dietary Guidance Award

Angela Odoms-Young, PhDDr. Angela Odoms-Young is the 2008-09 recipient of the Excellence in Dietary Guidance Award, which was established in 1992 as the result of Sue Krebs-Smith’s vision and efforts while working at the National Cancer Institute.  This award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the area of dietary guidance formulation, research, education or policy change. 


Dr. Odoms-Young is an Assistant Professor in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.   She is the Primary Investigator or Co-Primary Investigator on several research grants, including “The Relationship between Perceived and Objective Food Environments, Dietary Intake, and Weight Status in Latino Families,” “Impact of a New WIC Food Package Fruit and Vegetable Cash-Voucher on WIC Vendor Participation, Accessibility, and Fruit and Vegetable Characteristics,” and “Ethnographic Approach to Examining Neighborhood and Marketing Influences on Dietary Intake in African American Families with Preschool-Age Children.”  She has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports and presented research findings at many national meetings and conferences.


Student Abstract Award

Renata Jacob, BSRenata Jacob, BS, a current MS student in biology at Drexel University, is the 2008-09 recipient of the Student Abstract Award.  This award recognizes the student whose submitted abstract received the highest overall score by reviewers.  Her winning abstract is entitled, “Retail food safety risks for populations of different demographics.”  In addition to the award, Ms. Jacob will receive a one-year paid APHA membership.  


Ms. Jacob has several national presentations and a recent journal article published in the Journal of Food Protection entitled “Fate of surface-inoculated Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella typhimuriumon kippered beef during extended storage at refrigeration and abusive temperatures.”



Please join us in congratulating all of the award recipients by attending the FNS Awards Reception, which will be held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, session # 293.0, on Sunday, Nov. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Light refreshments will be served.

FNS Highlights at the Annual Meeting

November is quickly approaching, and an exciting program for the Food and Nutrition Section has been finalized.  The program and sessions can now be viewed online. We’ve connected with several other sections and caucuses such as Environment, Maternal and Child Health, Social Work, School Health Education and Services, Epidemiology, International Health, Women’s Caucus, and the Socialist Caucus among others to endorse additional sessions and pull them into our listed program.  We are also sponsoring the new Physical Activity SPIG (Special Interest Group) with three sessions specifically featuring innovative ideas to increase physical activity.


We have a wide variety of invited sessions this year in addition to peer-reviewed sessions generated from the call for abstracts. Invited sessions will feature hot topics such as menu labeling, hormones in food and water systems, water intake and health, sustainable food and water systems, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and antibiotic use in animal agriculture, community-based participatory research, and evidence for changing nutrition and physical activity environments including farmers' markets and produce stands in California’s central valley. Take a look at the online program to get more info on sessions or to look for the latest in your interest area.


The March of Dimes Agnes Higgins Award lecture and reception this year will honor Dr. Gail G. Harrison, PhD, from the UCLA School of Public Health.  Her presentation will bring to light the important implications of maternal malnutrition and obesity for infant, child and adult health. We hope you’ll attend this thought provoking event on Monday, Nov. 9 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. and celebrate the advances that Dr. Harrison has contributed to the field.  


You are also welcome to join in the Food and Nutrition Section business meetings (Saturday, Nov. 7 at 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2:00-5:00 p.m.) to learn more about the Section, get networked, and contribute to the national conversation.  There are some great opportunities to stay current on policy priorities, gain insight into special topic areas and be part of a dynamic group committed to public health.  Students and new professionals are particularly encouraged to come by!


We hope you’ll join us in Philadelphia not only to get caught up on the latest public health nutrition and physical activity initiatives, research, and policy action, but also to connect with other professionals.  The economy and budgets may be down, we may still be waiting for good health care reform that includes prevention, but now is a critical time to be part of the scene to get ready for the up-swing.  Carpe diem, and see you in Philadelphia!

Newly Created Breastfeeding Forum to Meet for the First Time in Philadelphia

The Executive Board of APHA recently approved the formation of the Breastfeeding Forum.  Its first business meeting is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 8 at 6:00 pm.  The Breastfeeding Forum social will take place on Monday, Nov. 9 at 6.30 p.m.  Please visit the Section booth to learn the exact location.  To RSVP for the social, or to learn more about the forum, contact Breastfeeding Forum Chair Melissa Bartick, MD, MSc.

Newsletter Submission Deadlines

Food and Nutrition Section members are encouraged to submit content to the newsletter, which is published three times per year.  Please e-mail news, research updates, or announcements to the newsletter editor, Sarah Forrestal.  Deadlines for the 2010 editions will be determined at the Annual Meeting.

APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition Announcements

Annual Meeting Registration and Housing Information

APHA Annual Meeting logoRegister for the meeting and make your hotel reservation soon (housing closes Oct. 9). Note: Presenters must be individual members of APHA to present their paper(s) and must register in advance for the meeting. Session organizers and moderators are also required to be members and pay the appropriate registration fee. Hope to see you in PhiladelphiaFor more information about the Annual Meeting, visit!  The Annual Meeting is also on Twitter: @APHAAnnualMtg.


APHA Career Guidance Center

Don't miss this opportunity!  Sign up now for a one-on-one or a group session with a professional career coach at the Annual Meeting.  These coaches can guide you in strategizing the next phase of your career and help you define your goals.  Select a 45-minute individual session or a 90-minute group session.  The group sessions are designed according to your career needs.  To see which session best fits you, please read about each coach's experience and education before setting an appointment.  If you have never experienced coaching before, this is a wonderful introduction to what may become a useful service for your career!  The Career Guidance Center can be accessed online.



APHA Press Announces Books Available at the Annual Meeting

APHA Press has three books in production of interest to epidemiologists and other health professionals that will be available at the Annual Meeting: Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control (3rd edition) by Patrick Remington, Ross Brownson, and Mark Wegner, and two books by Steven S. Coughlin, Ethics in Epidemiology and Public Health Practice (2nd edition), and Case Studies in Public Health Ethics (2nd edition).