Four bunches of orange carrots with leafy green tops

Photo: Alonso Nichols

White House Includes Two Tufts-Related Initiatives in Commitments to End Hunger, Reduce Diet-Related Disease

Innovative new institute and collaborative alliance led by institute and Kaiser Permanente among initiatives highlighted

Two Tufts-related initiatives have been included in the White House’s new round of public and private sector commitments, announced today by the Biden-Harris administration, to end hunger, improve nutrition, and reduce diet-related disease in the United States by 2030. The White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities continues the Biden-Harris administration’s work started at the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health that was held in September 2022, encouraging stakeholders from all corners to develop bold commitments to help achieve the administration’s five key pillars of national health.

The first Tufts commitment is the establishment of the Food is Medicine Institute at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. The Institute will spearhead a variety of collaborative efforts to implement, evaluate, and integrate food-based nutrition interventions and education to promote health, well-being, and health equity through innovative research, training for health care professionals, patient care, policy development, and community engagement. A university-wide initiative that includes the School of Medicine and collaborates with Tufts Medicine, the Institute is led by Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist, Distinguished Professor, and the Jean Mayer Professor of Nutrition at the Friedman School. 

This commitment includes current funding of $15 million, including $10 million in grants and gifts and a new investment of $5 million from the University. Additionally, the Institute will raise $10 million in grants and gifts over the next 5 years, which will be further matched by the University with annual support equivalent to payout of a $10 million endowment.

“Obesity, diabetes, and other chronic, diet-related conditions are a national emergency, driven by food and nutrition insecurity across the nation. The 2022 White House Conference – the first such national effort in more than 50 years – drew attention to these devastating challenges,” said Mozaffarian, who previously served as dean of the Friedman School. “Food is Medicine is one of the most exciting innovations in health care to leverage the critical role of nutrition in health. The Food is Medicine Institute will advance the evidence around this vision, serving as a catalyst to test and scale Food is Medicine interventions, mobilize public, private, and policy stakeholders, reduce health disparities, and create a more equitable and resilient health care system that recognizes the power of nourishing food.” 

The Institute was launched at an event in Boston on Oct. 18.

The second commitment will be a collaboration between the Institute and Kaiser Permanente to develop and co-lead a new National Food is Medicine Network of Excellence, bringing together multiple stakeholders such as health care providers and payers, non-profits, the private sector, professional associations, and academic institutions to engage in collaborative efforts to advance Food is Medicine initiatives. 

The Network will lead the nation in collaborative efforts to integrate nutritional interventions that both transform and adapt to existing treatment models, harnessing the latest in research and training to enhance patient care and education as well as raise rates of patient buy-in and participation. Network members will share knowledge and convene leaders surrounding Food is Medicine, develop collective and complementary projects, secure joint funding for activities, and work together on education and advocacy to support testing, scaling, and integration of Food is Medicine into health care systems and communities.

“It’s exciting to bring together these two powerhouses in their fields – Tufts in research and education, and Kaiser Permanente in providing equitable, evidenced-based health care, community investments and research – to form a collaborative national alliance to advance the research and practice of Food is Medicine,” said Mozaffarian. 

“We recognize that solving for food and nutrition security goes beyond just giving people food. People’s attitudes toward food, the economic tradeoffs they must make, the stigma around food assistance, and social and culture dimensions all play an important role,” said Pamela Schwartz, executive director for Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “The Network of Excellence will bring together public and private organizations to make a greater impact on reducing hunger, preventing, and treating diet-related disease, as well as improving health equity.”

The Food is Medicine Institute is a direct and enthusiastic response to pillars 2 (Integrate nutrition and health) and 5 (Enhance nutrition and food security research) of the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. With the National Food is Medicine Network of Excellence, the Institute and Kaiser Permanente further strengthen their shared commitments to these pillars. Both commitments ultimately seek to create a system where consumption of nutritious food is recognized as a fundamental component of health and health care and where all people and communities have the knowledge, resources, and support to achieve optimal health and health equity through nourishing food.

Back to Top