In 2019, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Board of Directors approved a name change to Nutrition Educators in the Food Sector (NEFS) as requested by members of the Nutrition Educators Working with Industry Division. The NEFS division is made up of members from many food sectors, including food production (farmers, food processors), various food environments (retail, schools), and consumer service segments (clinical care, public health). The NEFS reflects expertise within each segment and recognizes that each provides insights and contributions for enhancing education efforts toward improved nutrition behaviors.
The NEFS vision is to serve SNEB members by highlighting the dedicated, collaborative nutrition education efforts across the food sector to inspire and improve consumer nutrition behaviors. Its mission is to provide a division focused on promoting collaboration among members and diverse food sector practitioners on consumer nutrition education and behavioral research, resources, and programming. The vision and mission aim to be inclusive of nutrition educators in all food sectors and to take a modern approach in recognizing that all food sectors have a role in educating to help improve nutrition behaviors and healthy choices.
This modern direction is aligned with recommendations of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,1 the Food and Agriculture Committee on World Food Security and Nutrition, 2 and the NCBI Report on a Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System, 3 which reinforce the comprehensive nature of contributors to consumer behavior, dietary patterns, and overall health and wellness.
In 2020, there was a dramatic rise in food insecurity and increased attention on health inequities. Nutrition educators were quick to adjust programming and communications in ways that retained effective connection virtually. In November 2020, NEFS co-hosted a webinar with SNEB’s Advisory Committee on Public Policy: “The importance of nutrition and food security during COVID-19: a closer look at resilient resources and adaptable programming.” Megan Bradley, Cooking Matters, explained how she adjusted in-person curriculum, focusing on food skills education to create an effective online program including recipes, videos, and Facebook Live sessions.
At SNEB’s 2020 annual meeting, a panel presentation, “Collaborating across food sectors to enact relevant, effective, and innovative nutrition education strategies” featured NEFS members from multiple sectors. Timely consumer grocery shopping insights about Americans’ cooking habits during COVID-19 was presented by Hilary Thesmar, Food Manufacturing Institute. Alice Henneman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, shared practical examples of ways to leverage resources and collaborate with retail and commodity stakeholders. Katie Brown, National Dairy Council, presented on the challenges and opportunities in ensuring human and planetary health now and in the future.
The NEFS Division is a member platform to stimulate dialogue and recognize the efforts among food sector nutrition educators toward improving consumer nutrition behaviors.
This editorial was originally published in the March 2021 issue (Vol. 53, Issue 3) of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.