The Alliance for Food & Health: Bringing Stakeholders Together to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Combat Noncommunicable Disease

September 11, 2017

Allen Rakotoniaina, Graduate Policy Intern, Alliance for Food & Health

Malnutrition exists on a spectrum. On one end lies hunger and undernutrition; on the other end lies overnutrition – resulting in overweight, obesity, and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). It is on this latter side of the spectrum that the Alliance for Food & Health (AFH) focuses.

Photo by William Felker on Unsplash

Globally, approximately 1.7 million deaths from NCDs can be attributed to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption (<400 grams per day) and inadequate consumption is a top 10 selected risk factor for global mortality. This places a health systems burden not only on high-income countries, such as the United States, as well as lower-middle income countries (LMICs), concurrently working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition.

A multi-factorial public health challenge of this magnitude calls for multi-sector solutions. However, there is no multi-stakeholder platform that enables a cooperative dialogue about the link between food and agriculture and public health to reduce morbidity and mortality from food and nutrition-related NCDs. Enter the Alliance for Food & Health.

With 240+ participants representing a diverse range of stakeholders from the food and agriculture community, the public health community, governments, international organizations, and academia, the AFH bridges these differences through a multi-stakeholder process designed to engender novel, collaborative approaches. By examining and synthesizing current practices and outcomes, the AFH provides actionable recommendations – through a series of White Papers – for governments, private sector, and civil society. The AFH operates on a unique model: not only is it a multi-stakeholder platform, but its governing principles ensure that it is balanced – from its leadership to its funding prospects.  Its work is based in science, and it values learning and trust.

Developed through a highly rigorous and iterative process, the Alliance for Food & Health released its first White Paper, “How to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: A Multi-Stakeholder Approach for Improved Outcomes,” in August. In addition to an extensive amount of research, the White Paper underwent multiple rounds of in-depth review and discussion – first through a working group, then through the AFH’s Executive Committee, followed by several rounds of review by the larger stakeholder group – resulting in feedback from 40+ diverse, experienced, and highly knowledgeable AFH participants.

Through stakeholder engagement and broad dissemination, these actionable recommendations will ultimately influence policy and proposed interventions. The AFH encourages its participants to use the White Paper in their own work and distribution platforms, and promotes the White Paper through speaking engagements such as at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta, Georgia and the UN Committee on Food Security (CFS) in Rome, Italy.

The AFH’s discussions and outreach to stakeholders is just beginning. White Paper #2, regarding the role of the media in nutrition and public health, and White Paper #3, regarding access to healthy nutrition choices for children, are already in progress. The AFH invites other Alliance to End Hunger members and friends to contribute their voice to these discussions, outreach, and White Papers. The more voices that are involved in the AFH discussions, the stronger and more valuable will be its impact. Please contact AFH Co-Chairs Eric Trachtenberg, etrachtenberg@maglobal.com, and Rebecca Hamel, rhamel@georgetownresource.com, to learn more.

Read the White Paper