Public Policy Workshop (PPW) 2013: Day Two

March 12th, 2013

Thanks again to Rickelle Richards – Advocacy Chair – for this update directly from the PPW!

Believing in a Candidate: Grassroots Efforts for a Sustainable Impact

The Academy’s Legislative Public Policy Chair, Karen K. Ehrens, RD, LRD, emphasized that grassroots efforts to sustain congressional relationships are “the way to get things done.” She added that picking your candidate and supporting them entirely are crucial components of a successful relationship.

Ehrens introduced Senator Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), the first female Senator from North Dakota.  Senator Heitkamp was welcomed with a standing ovation that preceded a riveting speech on the contrast of hunger and obesity as they relate to health issues. She emphasized the importance of nutrition as “the vanguard of the next great public health outcome,” with the first step being education targeted specifically to members of Congress.

Later, Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings addressed over 100 generous ANDPAC donors, speaking emotionally about the RD’s role in changing our nation’s health by using efficient, effective communication.  He concluded by encouraging attendees to “push for policies that keep our people healthy.”

Building a Local Food System 

A panel of experts discussed principles, policies and procedures to building a local food system. PPW attendees first learned from Susan Roberts, JD, MS, RD, about the basic principles of local food systems.  She stated that they should be health promoting, sustainable, resilient, diverse, fair, economically balanced and transparent.

Angie Tagtow, MS, RD, LD, defined Food Policy Councils (FPC) and encouraged Academy members to be involved as the nutrition experts.  She emphasized that health and environment must be incorporated in food system models and highlighted examples of FPC successes.

Carla Honselman, PhD, RD, LDN, took attendees on a visual journey to her family’s farm.  She informed attendees of the challenges to farming such as regulations, taxes, cost and consumer issues.  She ended by identifying areas of common ground between RDs and farmers, stating that both want to provide safe nourishing foods, promote sustainability, provide access to healthful food and utilize evidenced based science.

Biotechnology and GMOs – From Farm to Label:  Academy members gained perspective from local farmer and RD, Jennifer Schmidt, who uses biotechnology practices on her family farm and is mindful of keeping our environment clean, crops nutritious and children healthy. PPW attendees also learned from Melinda Hemmelgarn RD who stressed the importance of transparency and accountability and expressed concern about potential health impacts of GMOs.

A 1200 Calorie Salad?!: Dr. Margo Wootan from CSPI updated members on menu labeling regulations, which require chain restaurants to list calories on menu and menu boards.  Dr. Wootan hopes the final rule will also include movie theaters, vending machines and alcoholic drinks. With 1/3 of daily calories for Americans coming from eating outside the home, consumers should have the right to know food’s calorie content.

RDs Might Soon Gain Therapeutic Diet Order IndependenceCMS proposed a rule that would allow privileged RDs employed by hospitals to independently order patients’ diets. RDs are the best clinicians to assess nutrition status, order diets and make modifications. The Academy and CMS agree: RDs are the nutrition experts!

Competitive Foods Might Lose the Race: Pew Health Expert, Jessica Donze Black MPH, RD, explained the proposed rule to establish nutrition standards on food and beverages sold outside of the school meal program. She stated that 80% of individuals want national standards for snack foods in schools and when nutrition policies for healthy snacks are implemented children eat more healthfully.

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