USGCRP's Interagency Crosscutting Group on Climate Change and Human Health (CCHHG) aims to reinvigorate integration of members’ work related to the food and nutrition security aspects of global climate change.
Climate Change, Food Systems, and Nutrition Security Leadership
- Sheila Fleischhacker, USDA-NIFA, Co-Chair
- Robert Godfrey, USDA-NIFA, Co-Chair
- Leo Goldsmith, CCHHG Coordinator
- Juli Trtanj, NOAA, CCHHG Co-Chair
- Austin Scheetz, SSCC Coordinator
USGCRP CCHHG Members with Climate Change, Food Systems, and Nutrition Security
Our team includes more than 90 members from across the Federal family representing the following agencies: USDA, HHS, Commerce, Labor, DoD, DoE, DoI, EPA, NASA, NSF, Smithsonian Institution, State, Transportation, and USAID.
Member Topics of Interest
- Helping Communities Thrive
- Reducing Food Loss & Waste
- Promoting Local & Regional Food Systems
- Supporting Urban Agriculture (including urban gardens)
- Shortening Food Supply Chain
- Disaster Relief and Recovery
- Reducing Food Safety Risk
- Improving the Nutritional Value of Food in the Context of Climate Change
- Working across the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus
- Prioritizing Nutrition Security and Nutrition Equity
- Leveraging Social Sciences (including understanding the economic impacts of proposed strategies)
- Honoring Traditional Ecological Knowledge
- Promoting Food Systems Worker Health
- Strengthening Integration between GHG Mitigation, Food Security and Human Health
- Developing Evidence-Based Culturally and Contextually Appropriate Strategies and Messages
- Helping Build the Evidence-base for the Implementation of Institutional Food Service Guidelines
- Developing data analysis and visualization for tracking government-wide programs and plans
About Food and Nutrition Security in the U.S.
Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods and the assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies). Food insecurity creates enormous strain on worker productivity, healthcare spending, and military readiness and disproportionately impacts racial/ethnic minority populations, populations living with lower incomes, and rural and remote populations. The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) noted food insecurity rates peaked at 14.9% in 2011 and dropped slowly to 10.5% in 2019 – illustrating the length of time – about 8 years – that it took to return to pre-recession (2007) levels. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Census Bureau reported how food insecurity and food insufficiency was a challenge and disproportionately impacted communities of color, lower-income communities, and rural/remote communities.
Often, food insecurity and diet-related chronic diseases co-exist. Diet-related chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in this country and disproportionately affect communities of color, lower-income communities, and rural/remote communities. The concept of nutrition security works to better recognize this co-existence of food insecurity and diet-related diseases and disparities. That is, nutrition security means having consistent access, availability, and affordability of foods and beverages that promote well-being and prevent (and if needed, treat) disease, particularly among racial/ethnic minority populations, populations living with lower incomes, and rural and remote populations. Nutrition security builds on and complements our work in promoting food security by recognizing we are all not maintaining an active, healthy life, and emphasizes taking an equity lens to our efforts to ensure access, availability, and affordability to foods and beverages.
About the Intersections between Climate Change, Food Systems, and Nutrition Security
The increased temperature, drought, rainfall variability, extreme weather, and ocean acidification associated with climate change is associated with reduced food production, altered nutrient content, inequitable access to healthy foods and beverages, and high rates of food insecurity. According to the 7th edition of the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report, during the next 20 years, the impacts of climate change could potentially intensify risks to food, water, health, and energy security. Therefore, addressing food and nutrition insecurity is interrelated with challenges and opportunities with our agricultural and food systems. Ensuring sustainable agricultural systems will require a convergence of science and technology to accelerate a transformation of our food system to shorten supply chains, optimize agricultural productivity, minimize negative environmental impacts, and ensure a resilient, flexible food system that is safe, affordable, and nutritious.
USGCRP CCHHG Climate Change, Food Systems, and Nutrition Security Initial Steps
- Identify relevant USGCRP member agencies’ relevant staff and provide the necessary USGCRP onboarding where appropriate
- Coordinate overviews of key relevant federal initiatives including USGCRP efforts
- Encourage participating agency overviews of relevant work
- Share relevant agency activities, among other emerging work in this area
- Catalog relevant federal activities including data sources, RFAs, educational supports and workforce development opportunities
- Consider a scientific symposium around the understanding the nutritional value of food during a changing climate
Key Relevant Federal Initiatives
Biden-Harris Administration Goals & Executive Orders
The Biden-Harris Administration stated its commitment to building food systems that support the health of Americans, combat climate change, and address the needs of the most vulnerable by empowering youth, women, and disadvantaged communities. This includes a focus on:
- Ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities,
- Building more resilient local and regional food systems,
- Building new markets domestically and internationally, and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, and
- Making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America.
Specific relevant Executive Orders include:
- 13390 - Protecting Public Health and The Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis
- 14002 - COVID Economic Relief (addressing growing hunger crisis)
- 14008 - Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad
- 14017 - America’s Supply Chains
The Biden-Harris Administration is working on a whole-of-government effort known as the Justice40 Initiative to ensure that Federal agencies work with states and local communities to make good on President Biden’s promise to deliver at least 40% of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.
United Nations Food Systems Summit
The United Nations Food Systems Summit’s goals of accelerating progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition and building more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food systems.
More than 50 organizations and countries have officially declared their support for the Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (SPG) Coalition, which the U.S. launched at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September 2021.
Aim for Climate
The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate/AIM4C) is a joint initiative created by the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates. AIM for Climate seeks to address the climate crisis by uniting participants to significantly increase and accelerate investments in, and/or other support for, climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over the next five years (2021-2025). AIM for Climate seeks to drive more rapid and transformative climate action in the agricultural sector, empowering agriculture to be part of the solution to address the climate crisis, build resilience to its impacts, and create co-benefits of climate action, Diversity, gender equity, and inclusion are critical to the success of the mission. AIM for Climate recognizes the wide range of participants necessary to achieve its goal and seek to draw on diverse knowledge, experiences, and cultures.
Key Relevant USGCRP Initiatives
The USGCRP Social Sciences Coordinating Committee (SSCC)
The SSCC fosters integration of the methods, findings, and disciplinary perspectives of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences and interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches into USGCRP activities in support of the Program’s strategic goals. The SSCC hosted a webinar series in fall 2021 on the intersection of food, climate, and culture. The goal of this series was to highlight the role of culture in understanding climate impacts on a variety of food systems as well as its potential for effectively building resilience and adaptive management. This work builds on past efforts from USGCRP and USDA, specifically the 2015 publication Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System, by approaching the topic through the lens of a wider variety of social sciences.
Relevant Working Groups
- IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (IPCC, 2022)
- Chapter 14, Fourth National Climate Assessment, Vol. II (USGCRP, 2018)
- Chapter 7, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States (USGCRP, 2016)
- Climate Change Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System (USDA, 2015)
- A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System (NASEM, 2015)