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Nutrition is vital to the healthy development and well-being of all people. Proper nutrition supports healthy weight and growth. Our programs promote the nutritional well-being of maternal and child populations across the life course.

Our approach to nutrition

We target investments and integrate nutrition activities into broader health programs. We partner with state public health agencies, universities, and community organizations. Through our investments and partnerships, we are:

Improving access to quality services

Providing continuing education, consultation and expertise to local, state, and national organizations:

  • Funding eight nutrition centers of excellence to increase the availability of MCH nutrition professionals
  • Created multi-lingual educational resources about nutrition that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) local offices give to mothers
  • Working with child care centers to improve practices that support nutrition standards in child care settings
  • Partnering with schools to create environments that provide healthy nutrition
  • Provided 22 small grants through our Healthy Weight Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to support workplace lactation efforts (PDF - 545 KB)

Advancing equity

Providing child- and family-centered, culturally- and linguistically-relevant services:

  • Provided small grants to Indigenous communities for breastfeeding accommodation and support activities
  • Established lactation rooms in early childhood education centers within communities of color and created positive messaging on the importance of breastfeeding and nutrition for faith-based communities of color
  • Created bilingual social media campaign addressing common barriers in order to support enrollment in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) among early childcare providers

Strengthening the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Workforce

Training that builds competency and leadership in the area of nutrition:

  • Online training for home visitors to prevent obesity by supporting healthy eating and active living for young families
  • Child health nurse trainings on pediatric nutrition assessment, counseling, breastfeeding, and the use of federal dietary guidance
  • Graduate student education that provides both clinical and public health approaches
  • Professional development opportunities for those working with children and youth with special health needs
  • State Title V MCH Block Grant workforce training, partnerships, and collaborative activities to increase MCH nutrition knowledge

Creating impact through leadership, partnership, and stewardship

By investing in research, student training, and continuing education, our investment portfolio builds capacity in public health nutrition systems and in the MCH nutrition workforce:

  • MCH nutrition professionals are equipped and students are trained to make policy and program decisions based on the best science
  • Trainees conduct nutrition research and other scholarly activities in collaboration with grantees and academic faculty
  • MCH nutrition professionals and students have access to the MCH Leadership Competencies through the MCH Navigator to gain the necessary knowledge, skills (foundational and advanced), personal characteristics, and values within a framework designed to support and promote MCH leadership
  • Grantees provide professional development and continuing education for MCH nutrition professionals and registered dietitian nutritionists

Resources for MCH professionals

We responded to gaps in obesity prevention by developing this toolkit:

We also provide information to advance maternal health at the state level:

We support the:

Our awardees provide education and build leadership skills that help create program and policy impact, including:

Funding details

Targeted investments

Integrating nutrition activities into broader health programs

Through our Title V MCH Block Grant, states are able to invest in areas that connect to nutrition and that promote healthy weight in MCH populations. States can choose particular Title V National Performance Measures such as physical activity or breastfeeding in order to track progress toward better health outcomes. In addition, states may choose to develop a State Performance Measure to address priority needs not covered by the National Performance Measures, such as promoting healthy food access (District of Columbia) or reducing food insecurity (Hawaii).

Other programs incorporate nutrition and nutrition-related activities (e.g. physical activity, obesity prevention, breastfeeding):

Advancing research on nutrition in MCH populations

Our Research Networks (RN) bring researchers and clinicians together. RNs that currently have studies related to nutrition include:

Through our Field-Initiated Research Studies (FIRST) Program researchers study ways to improve health care. Researchers have studied obesity prevention programs for homeless children and breastfeeding support for moms.

In the Secondary Data Analysis Research (SDAR) Program, researchers have studied the link between mental health and obesity and origins of childhood obesity in different populations.

Our National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) collects information on a variety of topics, including breastfeeding and infant feeding practices, food sufficiency, consumption of sugary drinks, fruits and vegetables, and obesity.

Our nutrition work within the broader context

We work with other federal agencies, such as USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, to coordinate our efforts. Results of those efforts include:

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