The Special Olympics Inclusive Nutrition Initiative is a collaborative effort to ensure people with intellectual disabilities are able to reap the benefits of inclusive and accessible national nutrition programs.
Inspired by the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
In September 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration released a National Strategy and hosted a conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. People with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience health issues in greater numbers than the general population. Many of these health issues are not connected to their disability, but many of them are connected to hunger and nutrition. Promisingly, several portions of the National Strategy mention people with disabilities. Greater awareness and action are needed to address these health disparities and to ensure the intentional inclusion of people with ID in the implementation of the National Strategy.
Special Olympics, along with other conference attendees, were encouraged to “make bold and impactful commitments…to help end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030.” The Inclusive Nutrition Initiative is part of how Special Olympics is contributing to make these ambitious goals a reality for people with ID.
2023 Inclusive Nutrition Summit
In October 2023, Special Olympics launched the new Inclusive Nutrition Initiative with a summit. Guided by an advisory committee of people with ID, caregivers of people with ID, staff of Special Olympics chapters in several US states, and nutrition professionals, the first annual summit focused on two target areas: inclusive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and inclusive Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP).
The summit brought together nine state and tribal nation delegations from around the US to discuss best practices, ongoing work, and barriers to inclusive SNAP-Ed and DPP. The delegations were made up of representatives from state health departments, SNAP-Ed and DPP implementing agencies, universities, and national agencies, as well as people with lived experience. Delegations left the summit having made their own bold commitments. The group will reconvene virtually in six months and in-person in one year to share progress and lessons learned and to renew their commitment to inclusive nutrition.
Special Olympics expects to see the Inclusive Nutrition Initiative grow in coming years, both by expanding existing state and tribal delegations and welcoming new delegations.
If you are interested in joining the Inclusive Nutrition Initiative or have questions, please contact: email@example.com