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The Committee to Update 2025 Dietary Guidelines is Strengthened by Diverse and Indigenous Perspective

By Heather Dawn Thompson, Director, USDA Office of Tribal Relations

From the beginning of the Biden-Harris administration, Secretary Vilsack has challenged our team to rethink USDA initiatives from an indigenous perspective. One of the most important things we do at USDA is publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) with our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These evidence-based nutrition guidelines are informed by recommendations from a committee of nutrition science experts and updated every five years.

For the 2025 DGAs, USDA and HHS sought an advisory committee that would be reflective of the full diversity within the United States, with the understanding that our backgrounds can affect our nutritional needs. The broader composition of the committee will ensure the resulting guidelines reflect the nutritional and cultural needs of all Americans.

We are pleased that the recently announced committee moves us closer to this goal. As USDA Director of Tribal Relations, I want to particularly note the historic appointment of the first tribal citizen of which we are aware to serve on a DGA advisory committee, Dr. Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, a member of the Choctaw tribe.

Dr. Blue Bird Jernigan’s extensive qualifications include a doctorate and master’s public health and serving as executive director of the Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy at Oklahoma State University, where she is a professor of Rural Health.

In addition to the DGAs, USDA is committed to providing technical assistance and removing barriers to serving traditional foods in our food and nutrition programs, as part of our Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative. This work is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to recognizing Indigenous Knowledge in federal policy, research, and decision-making processes.

USDA looks forward to working with this diverse committee and listening and learning from the unique expertise and perspective of Dr. Blue Bird Jernigan.

Page updated: November 22, 2023