On September 22, the National Pork Board invited dietitians, researchers and health professionals to a webinar where they learned what it takes to create an optimized, affordable and nutrient-dense eating plan for patients and clients.

Opening Remarks from the National Pork Board

NPB’s director of nutrition and dietetics, Kara Behlke-Ungerman, R.D.N., welcomed attendees by letting them know pork has a huge role to play in discussions around food inflation, hunger and nutrition security.

Kara Behlke-Ungerman, R.D.N. NPB director of nutrition and dietetics

After all, pork is a high-quality, affordable, nutrient-dense protein that satisfies many tastes and cultural preferences.

Kara then noted this webinar was based on research on the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) supported by the National Pork Board.

The Thrifty Food Plan

USDA updated and released the TFP on August 16, 2021. The TFP represents the cost of groceries needed to provide a healthy, budget-conscious diet for a family of four. With the updated TFP, USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will increase by 21%, meaning more access to affordable, nutrient-dense foods is possible.

The webinar’s moderator, Marven Cantave, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., formerly with Mississippi State University Extension Service and Feeding America, now the executive director of The Food System, explains the significance of the TFP.

Webinar moderator Marven Cantave, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., executive director of The Food System

Pork In Sustainable Healthy Diets: A Thrifty Food Plan Perspective

Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology, Center for Public Health Nutrition at the School of Public Health, University of Washington, provided an overview of the nutritional value of fresh pork.

Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington

He then reviewed pork’s role in healthy eating patterns as an affordable protein.

Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington

Dr. Drewnowski then reviewed new research sponsored by NPB on the TFP, which confirmed:

  • Pork can fit into a nutritious diet at a lower cost
  • Selecting pork as the only source of meat protein in the TFP reduced the weekly cost below the current TFP cost levels
  • Selecting pork as the only source of protein still allowed for nutrient-adequate diets in the TFP
Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington

Practical Application of the Thrifty Food Plan

Shelley Maniscalco, M.P.H., R.D.N., of Nutrition on Demand and former director of the office of nutrition marketing and promotion at USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy, then guided attendees on how to practically apply the TFP for their audience.

She stressed that the importance of health and nutrition professionals meeting individuals and families where they are by addressing their top eating priorities and challenges.

Shelley Maniscalco, M.P.H., R.D.N., of Nutrition on Demand

Maniscalco then shared 5 steps for helping people eat nutritiously and flavorfully, using pork as a case study.

  1. Start with what they are already eating
  2. Understand and consider nuances of food choices
  3. Optimize for health
  4. Identify low-cost options
  5. Match with skillset and lifestyle
Shelley Maniscalco, M.P.H., R.D.N., of Nutrition on Demand

SNAP Benefit Adequacy: The Thrifty Food Plan in Context

Ellen Vollinger, J.D., SNAP director at Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), then reviewed the adequacy of current SNAP benefits in the context of the TFP. She suggested while the TFP update was critical, it was also long overdue.

Ellen Vollinger, J.D., SNAP director at Food Research & Action Center

Vollinger then provided FRAC’s assessment on what can be done to strengthen SNAP benefit adequacy. 

Ellen Vollinger, J.D., SNAP director at Food Research & Action Center

HANDOUT: 5 Steps to Building a Healthy Eating Pattern with Pork on a Budget

NPB partnered with experts in the field of food and nutrition assistance programs to design a new handout. It provides five steps for building a healthy eating pattern with pork on a budget.

View and Download Handout

Watch the Full Recording

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Claim Your CPEU

This webinar has been approved for 1 Continuing Professional Education Unit (CPEU) from the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This is an ethics-related CPE activity.

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If you are seeking Continuing Professional Education credit and have feedback about this activity, please send comments to QualityCPE@eatright.org.