July 23, 2020 – The Academy continues to advance efforts organization-wide to address diversity, equity and inclusion. The Board of Directors empowered the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to make recommendations to support this important work. The full update of its ongoing efforts is available on eatrightPRO.org — including information on the Board-approved plan to conduct Listening Sessions in August and September with members, non-members, students, Academy organizational units and other stakeholders. These Listening Sessions will inform Academy strategies to increase D&I in the profession and among our leadership ranks.
In addition to the work outlined in the D&I Committee report, we are pleased to share with you the following updates.
To promote easy access to the existing portfolio of Academy diversity and inclusion resources for food and nutrition professionals, and to showcase new offerings and opportunities as they emerge, the Academy has developed a webpage dedicated to this topic. In addition, 2018-2019 FNCE® session recordings on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion are available at eatrightSTORE.org. Additional content is planned for release at FNCE® 2020, to be developed by the Committee for Lifelong Learning with input from the D&I Committee.
Nutrition and Health Equity Summit
On August 25, the Academy will host the Second Annual Nutrition and Health Equity Summit. The online conversation will focus on advancing the Academy’s advocacy efforts related to health equity, diversity and inclusion and reducing health disparities. This year’s event will be held with U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (Ill.) and the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. The Academy's first Nutrition and Health Equity Summit was held on August 22, 2019, in Chicago, and the proceedings from the summit are available on eatrightPRO.org.
National Organization for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
In early spring 2020, the Academy partnered with the National Organization for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education 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.
Academy members were encouraged to respond to an Action Alert from the Academy to contact their members of Congress to include this request in the next appropriations bill — highlighting the benefits of supporting diversity in our profession and expanding funding and outreach for nutrition and dietetics programs for people of underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. We were encouraged by the level of member engagement and want to thank those of you who took the time to respond.
State of Food and Nutrition Series: Impact of RDNs on Non-Communicable Diseases
In collaboration with the Academy, the Foundation began a new project in 2019 titled the State of Food and Nutrition Series: The Impact of RDNs on Non-Communicable Diseases. The series seeks to demonstrate the value of access to nutrition care by RDNs in three high-priority non-communicable diseases that affect many in the U.S. and globally: hypertension, chronic kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes. The project includes a focus on health inequity and improving access to care for marginalized populations. Results from this multi-phase project will be used to advocate for increased access to nutrition care delivered by RDNs. A report of this effort will be posted on the website and shared through Eat Right Weekly.
Foundation Fellowships and Scholarships
The Foundation is pursuing a new fellowship opportunity for a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. As part of the Foundation's successful fellowship program, this opportunity will support an RDN member to work with staff, D&I Committee member leaders and external experts to understand barriers and challenges that diverse students face in pursuing nutrition and dietetics education and entering the profession. Understanding those efforts that have been successful and identifying ways to build on those successes will also be a focus. The Fellow will be responsible for recommending a framework for action and strategies for implementation.
The Foundation will provide $500,000 in scholarship support this year. All students were eligible to apply and there are specific funds that were developed to support diverse candidates. The application process for this year is closed but will reopen in February 2021. The Foundation is working with NOBIDAN to help advance their scholarship fundraising efforts. A list of scholarships and awards can be found here.
The Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Academy Board of Directors acknowledge that current events highlight the need for our organization to continue to actively support and pursue change that leads to addressing inequities, fostering a community that honors the profession and welcomes, includes and serves all.
We remain confident that, together, we will move our organization forward, addressing difficult issues facing the Academy and our profession. We look forward to providing updates on the Academy’s progress in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Linda T. Farr, RDN, CSOWM, LD, FAND
Patricia M. Babjak
Chief Executive Officer