Summer 2017

Policy Expert Joins the Friedman School

Jerry Mande will lead the school's new Public Impact Initiative.

Jerold Mande, a former Obama administration official with a long record of shaping public policy, joined the Friedman School as professor of the practice in May. In addition to teaching, he will help launch the Public Impact Initiative, which will create a school-wide structure and strategies for changing food policy and improving public health. “We are thrilled to have Jerry Mande join the faculty and lead our impact initiative,” said Friedman School Dean Dariush Mozaffarian. “Jerry is a proven leader with extensive experience translating food policy to health impact.”

As senior adviser to the undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, Mande oversaw the Food and Nutrition Service, which helps feed one in four Americans through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program and 13 other federal programs. He also worked to promote healthful eating through nutrition education. But, Mande said, merely supplying people with the right nutrition information is not enough to ensure a healthy public. Real change in public health requires changing our food environment.

“Most Americans don’t understand how someone who is food insecure ends up obese,” he said. “Many people falsely believe it’s the obese person’s fault that they are overweight. The truth is that while personal responsibility plays a role, the data show clearly that we live in a toxic food environment.” If we can convince policymakers that the environment is at the root of the obesity epidemic, Mande continued, “then we can begin to reverse the trend.”

Mande argues that using sound nutrition science to create policy is vital, because meaningful systemwide change needs to start at the highest levels. “Once I started to understand nutrition and health, I realized I didn’t have the patience to change how people ate, one person at a time,” he said. “Government seemed like a more powerful lever for change. I still believe that. It is the place where the public interest comes first.”

Mande, who will also be a senior fellow at the Tisch College of Civic Life, said that in addition to the Friedman School’s outstanding nutrition science and policy scholarship, it has “a unique commitment to faculty of the practice and to civic life. That makes Friedman the best place to establish the advocacy, food-policy change and public health impact initiative that I am seeking to build.”

The Public Impact Initiative, which grew out of the school’s strategic plan, will create a broad network of public, private and nonprofit partner organizations to advocate for legislation, policies and programs that can make the biggest difference. First on Mande’s list? Organizing a task force that will look at ways to protect and strengthen SNAP by making SNAP diets healthier.

Top Stories

A Boost for Food Businesses

A new entrepreneurship program will give students the skills they'll need.

Taking Root

With a little help from Tufts, an immigrant farmer sustains her family, her culture and a diverse community.

Next-Gen Food Aid

These emergency meals are new, improved and engineered to save lives.

Fighting Shape

Cutting-edge nutrition science keeps the U.S. military at peak fitness and prepared to serve. And the discoveries Tufts researchers are making in the lab and in the field could help weekend warriors, too.

Editor's Picks

What’s a Dietitian to Do?

Challenges lead to hope in Malawi’s first R.D. training program.

Highlighting the Heroes

Unearthing ideas to fix the bad stuff, Food Tank starts with the good.

Eating for Healthy Eyes

Why complex carbs are the clear choice for preserving vision.

Soy and Survival

Unpacking the science related to diet and breast cancer.