A Message from Academy President Linda T. Farr, RDN, CSOWM, LD, FAND

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics believes American society, leaders and organizations must commit to doing more to address systemic racism and pervasive inequities across all facets of society, and is developing an organizational stance that will address social injustice and its effects on public health. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion are the cornerstone of the vision of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a world where all people thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that people from racial and ethnic minority groups are being hospitalized and dying from the COVID-19 at much higher rates. This is in keeping with longstanding patterns of minority communities experiencing lack of access to high-quality, affordable health care; disparities in educational and employment opportunities; income inequality; inequalities in law enforcement; poor housing conditions and inequitable access to healthful foods. This is unacceptable.

We are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Creating a culturally prepared nutrition and dietetics workforce will amplify and address disparities affecting the most vulnerable individuals and communities. The Academy and the National Organization for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education have joined forces to ask Congress to appropriate $310 million for the U.S. Department of Education, "of which $300 million would be set aside for grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, such as Primarily Black Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Institutions to strengthen and grow their allied health education programs, including nutrition and dietetics. The remaining $10 million would be set aside for grants for organizations or institutions to conduct national outreach initiatives to encourage people of color from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to pursue careers in nutrition and dietetics and to provide technical assistance to grantees to recruit and mentor students that enroll in their newly opened nutrition and dietetics programs."

The Academy also calls on Congress to pass the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2020, introduced in recent days by U.S. Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Pete King (N.Y.). This bill, for which the Academy has advocated, would expand MNT coverage beyond diabetes and renal disease for Medicare beneficiaries, providing coverage under Medicare Part B for MNT for prediabetes, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, malnutrition, eating disorders, cancer, celiac disease, HIV/AIDS and any disease related to unintentional weight loss. Expanded access to MNT is especially important for minority populations that have long faced chronic disease health disparities due to socioeconomic inequalities and reduced access to health care, healthful foods and safe places to be active and are now being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

To our members who are calling for change: We hear you. We stand with you.