Why to Become a USDA National Strategic Partner NOW!

The Nutrition Communicator’s Network is a program of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). This Network includes a group called the National Strategic Partners—comprised of diverse sectors and organizations dedicated to working together to help consumers follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and MyPlate—and if you are in the food, nutrition, and/or public health space, I think you should consider applying to collaborate with other leaders in the field!

I know what some of you are thinking—you [Shelley] are out here pushing the USDA/CNPP National Strategic Partner (NSP) program because you helped create and grow it back in your CNPP heyday. But the answer to that is a firm no—public-private partnerships are good for public health and for business.

Our country is experiencing several of the biggest public health crises of all time. COVID-19; high rates of overweight and obesity (with the creation of the super obesity classification); food insecurity and undernutrition; and profound and chronic underconsumption of fruits and vegetables—a key component of healthy dietary patterns.

At the risk of being a realist, the only path to finding our way out of these issues is together—and now more so than ever before. Public health and nutrition partnerships, alliances, and coalitions—whatever you want to call them—are not new. Yet, in spite of our best intentions and long-term efforts, the average American achieves a Healthy Eating Index score of 59. That’s 59/100 (59%)—an F.

We are stronger TOGETHER

The DGA are the foundation of nutrition guidance, education, and food reformulation in the US. They are created with the best nutrition minds, and science, that we have available—every 5 years. Any health professional worth their salt (get it?) provides dietary guidance consistent with the DGA. MyPlate and the Start Simple with MyPlate campaign + app are the centerpiece of communicating about and educating on the DGA. 

A classic WIN-WIN

The best type of collaboration is one that is mutually beneficial. 

Here’s what the government and citizens get out of your involvement in the NSP:

  1. The benefit of surround-sound. Competing messages has long been a thorn in the side of those promoting science-based health and nutrition principles. Together, NSPs help amplify the best dietary guidance and consistent MyPlate messages.
  2. An extension of marketing dollars. CNPP, the home of the Guidelines and MyPlate, has no Congressionally-appropriated budget and has been operating on a shoestring budget for decades.
  3. Messages targeting individual population groups and settings (see point #2 regarding meager budget cycles). The government can only do so much by getting the best science and umbrella nutrition messages out there. It takes a committed army to getting these concepts, plus resources and support, out to every consumer in the US.
  4. Increased trust. People trust their friends and families and favorite brands. Government, not so much. You know you can trust Federal science-based guidance and consumers know they can trust you.

Here’s what you get out of your involvement in the NSP:

  1. Insider knowledge into the DGA/MyPlate communication plans and activities. But, only if you join now—the big show is getting ready to roll out starting New Years 2021!
  2. A ride on the coattails of the nutrition experts.
  3. Alternative options for increased visibility in your sector. The group has regular meetings (COVID notwithstanding) and webinars where you can share more about your organization’s programming, research, and products.
  4. Networking and the ability to develop non-competitive, fruitful (get it?) collaborations.

Bottom line? We’re all in this together. Sure, national organizations have their role to play but if your title is dietitian, doctor, nurse, educator, influencer, or voracious health foodie, you’re on this team, too! Don’t meet the requirements to be a National Strategic Partner? No problem—you can still be part of the Nutrition Communicators Network by becoming a MyPlate Ambassador!

But, do it NOW—the 2020-2025 DGA will be out before we know it and there’s no time like the present to help bring the 2020-2025 DGA to life and close the adherence gap between the DGA and how real people eat!

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