Food Security and Nutrition for All
For more than 25 years, Angela Tagtow has supported the health and well being of all types of communities. To say that she understands public health nutrition is an understatement.
Angela has worked at local, state, federal and international levels in agriculture, food, nutrition policy, public health, and food and water systems.In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as the Executive Director for the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP).CNPP develops and promotes national dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers. Angela co-led the development and launch of the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans with the US Department of Health and Human Services. She also oversaw the development and release of the MyPlate, MyWins consumer nutrition education campaign.
To learn more about the CNPP, dietary guidelines and consumer nutrition outreach, don’t miss this two-part article series published in UCFoodObserver.com. The interviews were conducted by Rose Hayden-Smith, who participated with Angela in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded Food and Society Policy fellows program in 2008–2009.
After the change in the administration, Angela moved home to Iowa and “deliberately took a healthy dose of time off.” Along with home remodeling projects, she and her husband have focused on nurturing their land and prairie and restoring a neglected creek bed.“I call this work my Vitamin N (ature) therapy,” she says with a laugh. “Professionally, I continue to serve on committees, have done writing and speaking, and provide consulting and facilitation services on public health nutrition and food system issues. It’s similar work to what I was doing prior to USDA, although I have not officially re-launched my consulting firm.”
Meanwhile, what does she wish people would focus on more regarding food security and nutrition these days?
“Food insecurity is a direct outcome of inequality throughout the entire food system,” says Angela. “The solutions to establishing food security — and food systems that support nutrition — are sustainable wages; environments in which healthy foods and beverages are the default; policies that prioritize health and equity; and a food system that supports healthy eating patterns.
This requires a comprehensive approach to addressing systems, policies and environments that support income equality and food security.”
Angela provides an example of how around the holidays, we see so many food drives for food banks and food pantries. “Unfortunately, much of the donated food is high in saturated fat, sugar, and/or sodium and does not support low-resource households in eating a healthy diet,” she adds.
“In addition, it costs that organization more to receive, store, and distribute donated food versus accepting cash donations which enables that organization to purchase healthy food at wholesale costs.”
Emergency food systems are critical resources in our communities and in recent years we have seen positive changes in the nutrient profiles of the foods donated and distributed.
“However, this system must continue to evolve as I believe this prevents us from addressing the root of food insecurity — sustainable wages,” says Angela. “Minimum wage rates are not sustainable wages and we must call upon policymakers and all employers to establish equitable and sustainable wages. This is one of numerous solutions to food security”
Tackling Food Insecurity
In one of her newest projects, Angela is joining other Kellogg Fellows to look at ways to address food insecurity on local and global levels. Together with 18 Kellogg Fellows, including Ricardo Salvador, she is a member of the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance (KFLA) design team organizing a Fall 2018 global summit addressing food security.
The upcoming summit will bring together people worldwide to discuss food insecurity. In fact, the Kellogg Fellows on the design committee are from southern Africa, Latin America and the United States.
This type of synergy between Kellogg Fellows has influenced Angela’s professional life, and she’s excited by the potential future benefits that are generated at the summit.
“The Food and Society Policy Fellowship was a life-changing experience for me,” she admits. “Class 6 consisted of very dynamic and diverse professionals who broadened, and continues to broaden, my understanding of healthy, green, fair and accessible food systems. It expanded my skill sets, further elevated the critical importance of policy in this work and built genuine friendships.”
The Kellogg Fellowship solidified two important life principles for Angela: “First, take advantage of every opportunity as it may lead to something more,” she says. “Second, never look back and say ‘I wish I had…’ I continue to employ these principles today, and I believe they symbolize what we hope to achieve with the KFLA global food security summit.”
Stay tuned for more details.
Have you read our interview with author, farmer and Kellogg Fellow Mas Masumoto?