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Nutrition and Food Services

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National Nutrition Month ®

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Each year during March, we celebrate National Nutrition Month® by promoting the importance of making informed food choices while developing healthier eating and physical activity habits. National Nutrition Month® serves as an opportunity to remind the public and the media that Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDNs) are the most valuable and credible sources of timely and scientifically based food and nutrition information.

Learn more about National Nutrition Month® from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 

This year, the National Nutrition Month® theme is “Beyond the Table.” The theme encourages us to focus on how good nutrition can not only help ourselves and our families’ health, but also the environment by reducing food waste. By partnering with a VA Dietitian, you can learn sustainable eating habits while selecting nutritious foods to help meet your individual goals. 

When planning “Beyond the Table,” try to consider agricultural, environmental, and socioeconomic impacts which may affect food safety, food production, and our health. The farm-to-fork concept can help reduce agricultural and environmental impacts. Consider how meal planning and food preparation in the kitchen can help reduce food waste and save money grocery shopping. 

Here are some tips to help you plan “Beyond the Table” and to help reduce food waste:
1) Grow some of your own food:  
• Start small. Try planting a few herbs or some leafy greens. Foods that don’t fruit are easier to grow.
• If space is tight, try container gardening in a sunny window, patio or balcony.
• Try making compost, a natural fertilizer, from vegetable peelings, fruit cores, coffee grinds, or any leftover food scraps that don’t contain meat, dairy or cooked foods. For more information, watch this video: Compost to Reduce Food Waste

2) Add more plant-based foods: 
• Many plant proteins such as beans and lentils are less costly than many animal proteins.
• Expand your cooking skills by learning to create delicious plant-based meals by attending a Healthy Teaching Kitchen class or visiting the VA Healthy Teaching Kitchen YouTube channel.

3) Eat some seasonal produce when able: 
• In season, locally grown foods are often less expensive and may have more flavor.
• Try your local farmer’s market, look for seasonal produce sales at your grocery store or use the USDA Seasonal Produce Guide to know what’s in season.
• Frozen and canned produce is also a great option, and is often canned or frozen promptly after harvest, keeping it fresh tasting. Choose no-salt added, low-sodium and un-sauced options.

4) Meal plan to help save money and reduce food waste:
• Plan meals for the week by selecting recipes based on ingredients you already have in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to help save time and money
• Make a grocery list based off when you plan to make for the week and buy only what you plan to use.
• Buy your favorite shelf stable foods (peanut butter, grains, beans, and seeds, etc.) in bulk when they go on sale.
• Plan to have leftovers for another meal or freeze them for a fast future meal.

To get started on making healthy choices "Beyond the Table", contact a VA Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at your facility.

Read more in this National Nutrition month article  about how other VA services are joining the National Nutrition Month celebration this year.

Additional Resources:
Healthy Teaching Kitchen Program
Nutrition Health Topics 
MOVE Weight Management Program
Whole Health Program
Fresh Focus Podcast
Recipes and Cookbooks

National Nutrition Month logo

In 2024, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day on Wednesday, March 13th. As the nation's food and nutrition experts, RDNs are committed to improving the health of their patients, families, and communities. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day and National Nutrition Month® promote the Academy and RDNs to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information

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