Public Policy Workshop (PPW) 2013: Day One Events

March 11th, 2013

Thanks to Rickelle Richards – Advocacy Chair – for this update from DC!  Look for more updates coming soon.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is Making History at PPW 2013!
The President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Ethan Bergman PhD, RD, CD, FADA, kicked off the Academy’s 2013 Public Policy Workshop (PPW) with a powerful challenge: “If dietetics is your profession, then policy should be your passion!”  Dr. Bergman reminded attendees that advocacy starts with every member.  In sticking with this year’s theme, he inspired the audience by saying if we “work locally to improve the health of our community…it becomes a national movement.”

During lunch, Bergman presented the 2013 PPW Grassroots Excellence Award to an inspiring leader in grassroots advocacy and longtime (55 years!) Academy member:  Constance Locher-Boussard RD, LDN.  Connie is a prime example of a committed, passionate nutrition policy leader who assured PPW that she is not done yet!

Dr. Bergman helped bring the successful day to a close with his remarks at the PPW’s reception, where Academy members networked, mingled and reflected on the day’s teachings.  Sunday’s sessions energized members as we prepare for advocacy opportunities.

Academy Members Are Briefed on “Our Issues” 
PPW attendees were briefed on complex issues affecting dietetics, the future health of vulnerable populations, and the surrounding political environment.  Nutrition policy experts covered important topics such as the budget, sequestration, Older Americans Act (OAA) and the Farm Bill, all which are impacting RDs’ and DTRs’ ability to best practice nutrition and dietetics and provide quality care to Americans.

Sequestration, which went into effect on March 1, will cut millions of dollars to many vital programs and institutions, including NIH, FDA, CDC, WIC, food safety, Head Start, tribal services and senior meals. Since Congress is scheduled to pass a budget by the end of March, this is the perfect opportunity for us to storm the Hill and speak our message!

Robert Blancato updated members on the OAA, which aims to keep older adults independent at home and in their communities.  Nutrition programs, such as Meals on Wheels and congregate dining, are a major part of the OAA; they are critical to the well-being of the aging population.  Blancato informed members that OAA saves millions in Medicaid and Medicare dollars – a good tidbit to take with you to the Hill!

The Academy’s Legislative Public Policy Committee Chair, Karen K. Ehrens, RD, LRD, moderated a session on the Farm Bill with a particular focus on SNAP-Ed.  Experts informed attendees that SNAP and SNAP-Ed are susceptible to devastating cuts that would affect the 90 million people eligible for the program.  Members learned about SNAP-Ed’s innovative, creative, evidence-based, customized approach.  Educate Congress about SNAP-Ed; it’s not just pamphlets, pencils and posters but empowering programs and messages to help people make healthy lifestyle changes.

SNS DPG Recognized for Hard Work in Schools: The Academy’s School Nutrition Services (SNS) DPG was honored for its members’ dedication to improving school meals.  Dr. Thornton, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, thanked SNS for leading our children to better health.

Expanding Coverage Through Advocacy: Changes in our health care system provide dietitians with opportunities to advocate and expand coverage for MNT services.  While changes will not happen overnight, it is up to dietitians to lobby, collaborate, and realize our importance in this exciting advancement.  Create your personal advocacy action plan today!

Nutrition Informatics is Coming to a Computer Near You: The Academy’s Nutrition Informatics Committee discussed technology changes that are impacting the way we care for our patients.  Health data will follow patients throughout their lives and we must make sure nutrition information is included and data is collected!  35% of hospitals are already using electronic health records!.

HEN Hosts First PPW Film Festival: The Hunger and Environmental Nutrition DPG showed the film Apple Pushers, a documentary portraying five immigrants’ trials as green cart vendors and detailing their roles in NYC’s struggle against food deserts.  59 attendees were left feeling, “If they can do it, we can do it.”

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