USDA Food and Nutrition Service Provides Specialized Nutrition Training to Tanzania and Zanzibar Ministries of Agriculture

June 16, 2016

Yibo Wood, Food and Nutrition Service

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is known for its administration of federally funded food and nutrition assistance programs in the US.  Over the past seventy years, the US has gradually built an array of nutrition assistance programs designed to help low-income people meet their food needs. They form a nationwide safety net to reduce food insecurity and hunger and achieve healthy, nutritious diets, currently serving one in four Americans over the course of a year. The largest programs include: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC).

FNS has worked with international communities on nutrition and food security issues to varying degrees over the past two decades, providing technical assistance to countries on school meals, WIC-like programs, SNAP, etc. and has hosted countless delegations that have come to US to see FNS programs in action.

USDA's Anne Bartholomew with Masasi District Nutritionist, Victoria (Courtesy: USDA)

USDA’s Anne Bartholomew with Masasi District Nutritionist, Victoria (Courtesy: USDA)

Most recently, Anne Bartholomew, Nutrition Services Branch Chief, Supplemental Food Programs Division, traveled to the Republic of Tanzania, including Zanzibar during April 29-May14, 2016, along with staff from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).  Together they provided training and technical assistance to the Ministries of Agriculture.  This training is part of the Feed the Future activities: Building a Nutritionally Balanced Food Basket in Tanzania.  ERS, in cooperation with the USAID SERA Policy Project, also a Feed the Future project, has been training staff from the Ministries of Agriculture from Mainland Tanzanian and Zanzibar in the use of a food basket methodology to measure access to (ability to buy) food. The purpose of this trip was to provide requested specialized training in nutrition topics by FNS nutrition expert to assist in the development of “healthy” food baskets that provide more nutrients while deviating minimally from traditional diets.  Anne conducted 3-day training in Zanzibar that included the following topics:

  • Agriculture and nutrition linkages—understanding the pathways from agriculture to nutrition outcomes.
  • Tools and approaches for designing nutrition programs.
  • Cost effective methodologies for nutrition monitoring (e.g. creation of permanent sample frame etc.).
  • Programmatic approaches to address malnutrition (e.g. the WIC Program model)
  • Methods for nutrition assessment—understanding anthropometry, etc.

Additionally, FNS and ERS staff traveled to SERA project sites to meet with District Agriculture staff and visit local markets to gather information on food intake and food prices at the district level.

We hope that the Zanzibar Ministry gained a better understanding of nutrition issues as result of this training and will integrate that knowledge into their food security monitoring activities.