JNEB Editorial: Sustainability Planning | Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB)

JNEB Editorial: Sustainability Planning

Posted by: on Friday June 14, 2019 JNEB Logo

Originally published in the April issue of JNEB.

If you have not already read the January JNEB issue, please do review the SNEB Position Paper in that issue concerning environmental sustainability being included in dietary guidelines.1 The position states that this should occur whether providing guidance for individuals or groups and in national guidance. This may be a call to action for nutrition educators.

Do we discuss in our programs and individual counseling sessions issues on environmental sustainability? Changing consumer demand is one strategy mentioned in the position paper to overcome the problem of meeting nutritional needs of an increasing population while addressing major environmental problems. In a simplistic form, this may mean supporting fewer animal products and more plant products. This already is part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans within the food patterns.2 However, as the  paper points out, transportation and organic foods could have less impact on the environment than perhaps had been thought.

Of particular interest is the issue of food waste and its impact on the environment. I doubt any of us would assert that food waste was okay, but do we actively discuss this with our target audiences? What  are  the  strategies for individuals and communities to reduce their food waste? How can we help to support changes in behavior that result in food waste? Blondin et3 discuss milk waste, its association with other beverages served at breakfast, and with teacher encouragement to eat breakfast. However, 59% of the milk wasted was milk not served. This reflects a need for school food service education.

Bean et al4 evaluated the impact of salad bars on fruit and vegetable selection, intake, and waste in 2 elementary schools (n = 1,193). While students chose a wider number of fruits and vegetables, their portions were smaller, thus intake was less. However, waste was also decreased. This represents a challenge for practitioners and researchers to increase portions without increasing waste.

One research group5 to pursue these challenges in a novel way explored how eco-branding was received by children. This formative research defined which messages resonated with the children, which were misunderstood, and which were not liked and why. Similar work with adults may provide valuable insights into how we might move forward with sustainability awareness and education.

JNEB has received only a few New Resources related to sustainability. In 2015, Quick Check Guide to Organic Food6 was reviewed. In addition to definitions and issues with organic foods, explanations of Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Certified Naturally Grown are explained. In 2017, Farmer’s Markets: Local, Fresh and in Season’s7 reviewer felt this could be a great booklet to dis- tribute to customer at farmer’s markets as might be the Farmer’s Market Cookbook.8 What I have not seen are any resources for incorporating environmental sustainability skills into our programs, interventions, and counseling. If you know of these resources, please send suggestions to editor@jneb.org.

Karen Chapman-Novakofski, PhD, RD, LDN


  1. Rose D, Heller MC, Roberto CA. Posi- tion of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior: The importance of including environmental sustainability in dietary J Nutr Educ Behav. 2019;51:3-16.
  2. Department of Health and Human Serv- ices, US Department of 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th edition. 2015. http://health.gov/diet- aryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Accessed February 16, 2019.
  3. Blondin SA, Goldberg JP, Cash SB, Grif- fin TS, Economos Factors influenc- ing fluid milk waste in a Breakfast in the Classroom School breakfast program. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018;50:349-356.
  4. Bean MK, Spalding BB, Theriault E, et Salad bars increased selection and decreased consumption of fruits and veg- etables 1 month after installation in title 1 elementary schools: A plate waste study. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018;50:589-597.
  5. Folta S, Koch-Weser S, Tanskey LA, et Branding a school-based campaign com- bining healthy eating and eco-friendli- ness. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018;50:180-189.
  6. Donovan M. Quick Check Guide to Organic Food [New Resources for Nutrition Educators]. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015;47:485.
  7. Lyford Farmers’ Markets: Local, Fresh and in Season [New Resources for Nutrition Educators]. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2017;49:179.
  8. Drake Farmer’s Market Cookbook [New Resources for Nutrition Educa- tors]. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018;50:845.