BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it has partnered with Southern University to open a Nutrition Hub to help fight diet-related diseases in underserved communities.

Southern is the first university to house a USDA Nutrition Hub.

The nutrition hub will be able to offer nutrition-related information at the community level, especially to communities impacted by diet-related chronic diseases such as obesity, Type II diabetes and certain cancers, according to USDA.

“The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center is extremely excited and honored to be the first university to house a USDA Nutrition Hub,” said Dr. Orland F. Mean, Chancellor-Dean of the Southern University Ag Center. “This Hub will not only assist in combating diet-related chronic diseases in underserved communities, but it will also provide our students with the experience needed to build a workforce of nutritionists, researchers and extension agents that will aid in closing the nutrition gap in at-risk communities.”

According to USDA, the nutrition hub will be able to do the following:

  • Share nutrition information and connect communities with programs.
  • Develop partnerships with organizations that serve Black communities and define community needs about food and nutrition.
  • Research human nutrition, particularly in underserved and underrepresented communities.
  • Build a workforce to increase partnerships between researchers and those working in community nutrition and health.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and USDA have given $1 million to hire two full-time Nutrition Hub co-directors. One director will be employed by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the other will be employed by Southern University, according to USDA.

“The partnership allows for the university to be able to carry out Hub activities that support the strengths, resources and relationships of both organizations,” USDA said.