Rickelle Richards, Emily Vaterlaus, Charlotte Vincent, and Bonnie Athas have represented UAND well at the PPW this week – thank you to them for all of their updates from the conference! Advocacy is such an important pillar of our organization.
Members of Congress Send PPW Attendees Off to the Hill in High Spirits
The President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Ethan Bergman PhD, RD, CD, FADA, presented Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern with the 2013 Public Policy Leadership Award. Rep. McGovern is an activist in the fight against hunger in America. “Hunger is a political condition,” stated Rep. McGovern as he spoke on the importance of the Academy advocating against budget cuts to nutrition and nutrition education programs.
Every week Rep. McGovern stands before Congress and urges them to put into words and action a plan to fight hunger. McGovern went on to tell PPW attendees about his challenges with living on a food stamp diet for one week, limiting his food costs to $3 per day. “It’s hard to be poor,” said McGovern.
In closing, McGovern pointed out that nutrition plays a huge role in health care and the fight against hunger. PPW attendees agreed as they rose to their feat to demonstrate their support of McGovern’s work.
Later that morning, Iowa State Representative Bruce Braley, whose daughter is an RD, spoke on moving from health care delivery systems to systems that reward for patient outcomes. Rep. Braley stated, “It is best to invest in prevention and wellness than treating sick people.”
Rep. Braley ended by pointing out that investing in training professionals, changing behaviors and educating patients could save the U.S. $25 billion a year in health care costs. RDs can play a pivotal part and help lead the charge.
Academy Members Storm the Hill
Over 400 Public Policy Workshop (PPW) attendees gathered for the culmination of PPW’s purpose, storming Capitol Hill. After two and a half days of numerous workshops, speeches and networking opportunities, members felt empowered to reach out to their members of Congress, a task that is often intimidating.
Anxiously planning their approaches, Academy members were chomping at the bit to let their voices be heard. Upon reaching Capitol Hill, members dispersed to project a unified message on behalf of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Topics included the Farm Bill, Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act, Ryan White and loan forgiveness.
At the end of the day, everyone concluded their Washington, D.C. advocacy experience feeling confident and empowered, knowing that their members of Congress “are just people too.”
Sam Kass Keeps Let’s Move! Moving:
White House Chef, Sam Kass, updated PPW attendees on the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. During the second Administration Let’s Move! is focusing on providing a simple, actionable message to the public. “We need to harness the power of marketing to promote healthy foods,” said Kass. He also pointed out that change happens on the ground first and RDs play a major role.
“To Be Nutritious, It Must Be Safe,” — Missy Cody PhD, RD: With foodborne outbreaks affecting 1 in 6 people, improving food safety infrastructure continues to be a vital component of public health. The new food safety regulations are shifting from documenting and reacting to preventing foodborne outbreaks.
Communicating Effectively and Confidently with Congress: Two communication workshops were offered to Academy members prior to Tuesday’s Hill visits. At the beginner/intermediate workshop a public policy leadership panel discussed getting on the “public policy bus” and reviewed strategies to promote a strong public policy culture among dietitians. Prepare, practice, partner and take action by identifying your skills, resources and goals. It’s all about relationships!
Attendees of the advanced track learned the tricks of the trade to communicate effectively with members of Congress, such as knowing your audience, crafting a compelling message, delivering talking points effectively, relationship building, storytelling and managing the face-to-face meeting. Key points: Start with the basics, avoid acronyms, stick to 2 or 3 messages, stay on track and remain in constant contact after your visit.