Each year, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) and the Advisory Committee on Public Policy (ACPP) reward an individual or group that aligns with the Society’s mission to participate and enact change in nutrition education through policy change. This year’s award will be presented to Susan Foerster, MPH during the 2020 SNEB Annual Conference held virtually on July 20 – 24.
Foerster has dedicated her career to advancing food and nutrition education, research, and policy to improve population outcomes and equity. Before retirement, she began her work in Boston upon graduating with her BS and MPH degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the California Department of Health in 1973 and was then promoted to lead nutrition development for adult health in 1976. The focus of her work was aging hypertension, diabetes control, health promotion, and cancer prevention.
Her first large initiative with the California Department of Health was the “California 5 A Day-for Better Health!” campaign in 1988. The campaign was then adopted by the US government in 1991. It has also been emulated by at least 25 countries. She also strengthened the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) program in California during her career. Even in retirement, Foerster uses her time to protect, support, and innovate the SNAP-Ed program nationally. She also serves as the co-chair of the Association of SNAP Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA).
Foerester’s work has been recognized with the Surgeon General’s Award for Healthy Schools Challenge, the USDA Nutrition Champion Award, Anita Own Recognition Award for Innovative Nutrition Education Programs for the Public from the American Dietetic Association, Award for Outstanding Service to the National 5 A Day Program from the National Cancer Institute and the Dolores Nyhus Award, the highest honor from the California Dietic Association’s.
Foerster is optimistic about the future of nutrition education policy and expects to see a blossoming of nutrition policy in the next administration. “A lot of the shortcomings of current nutrition status are being exposed across the country, and so I think it will be possible for nutrition educators and professionals from all sectors to work together on changes that occur locally, at state level, and across the country to find ways that healthy eating and physical activity can become much more of a norm,” Foerster said.
Foerster urges young and mid-career professionals to “think in new ways and develop fresh solutions about how they can make changes on behalf of positive public policy for nutrition and food.”