The Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutrition insecurity and improve human health in the United States and around the globe.

FFAR is working to address food system inefficiencies and promotes food production practices to improve food and nutrition security and human health. These efforts emphasize novel processing and packaging technologies, transformational approaches to increase food access, reducing food loss and waste and designing predictive methodologies that inform the supply of and demand for individual crops and food animals.


Health-Agriculture Nexus research focuses on:

  • Increasing Access to Nutritious Foods (including affordability, equitability, and distribution in rural areas and farming communities): Although the United States produces enough food to feed the entire population, 1 in 8 people are food insecure due to several factors, including financial constraints and/or gaps in distribution models. The phrase food desert—used to describe the lack of food retail stores in certain urban settings—is also used for certain rural areas, including those that have agricultural production. Research in this area uncovers transformational approaches to provide reliable and equitable access to affordable, nutritious foods in these underserved communities, so everyone can lead a healthy and active life.
  • Reducing Food Loss and Waste: Enormous amounts of food are wasted daily throughout the food chain, and that involves not only the food and its nutrients, but also resources, such as the land, water, energy and agricultural inputs necessary to producing this food. FFAR supports research to better understand and evaluate food system interactions, develop technological and non-technological innovations to prevent and reduce food loss and waste and find alternative uses for food waste.
  • Advancing Plant and Animal Production Systems for Better Nutrition and Affordability: Feeding a growing global population with limited arable land and water resources stresses our existing plant and animal food systems. This stress affects our capacity to address future challenges and produce affordable, nutritious foods. FFAR supports research to produce sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food, including designing methodologies that predict the supply of and demand for crops and animal species.
  • Breeding Better Nutrition: Changing consumer food preferences, food demands and weather patterns require us to rethink the foods we produce and how we produce them. FFAR is exploring ways to redesign food systems and their components to address complex problems such as obesity, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and other diet-related diseases.

Where appropriate, FFAR strongly encourages including socio-economic considerations in research proposals, given the anticipation that social and economic analyses will provide critical inputs to project design, evaluation processes, and outcomes in these focus areas. Collaboration with socio-economic scientists is advised.

Upcoming Programs

Food Packaging Prize

FFAR is spearheading the Food Packaging Prize to identify and accelerate the next generation of sustainable packaging materials and/or technologies to reduce food waste and increase food availability. Learn more about the Food Packaging Prize.

Recent Events

FFAR’s Scientific Program Director Dr. John Reich spoke on a webinar about underutilized crops, hosted by the Consumer Brands Association. Reich discussed the importance of underutilized crops, and potential opportunities to increase their use in the food system.