Academy Advocates for RDN Positions

05/19/2016 - Are you considering community nutrition as your specialty? Have you, or will you be, interning in a public health setting? If so, there is a high likelihood that your future position will be publically funded.

Most clinical positions receive some funding from the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services. Registered dietitian nutritionists in public health and community nutrition programs receive government funding from the federal, state and local levels as well. This funding includes the Prevention Fund (part of the Affordable Care Act), the Farm Bill, the Older Americans Act, and Child Nutrition Programs such as the National School Lunch Program and WIC.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advocates to keep these programs that employ RDNs funded. In addition, the Academy provides new ideas for effective nutrition programs and interventions for public funding.

These efforts not only ensure the future employment of RDNs, but they also promote consumer protection. We want to ensure that Americans receive advice and education from nutrition experts to improve their overall health. This is important as health care funding focuses more on preventive health nationwide.

As a profession, RDNs want to be sure that their message is communicated clearly and effectively. That said, the most effective means of communication with public policy leaders is to speak with sound messaging and in one voice. There are key players that ensure these efforts are executed. The Academy's Legislative and Public Policy Committee establishes the public policy priority areas, provides oversight on the public policy activities of the Academy, and collaborates with the Academy’s Policy Initiatives and Advocacy staff. Together, they work to make the profession's voice heard.

LPPC and the PIA staff collaborate to establish a plan of work which the Academy's state affiliates and members help to fulfill. This happens in a variety of ways, including grassroots efforts such as the Action Center, a tool that allows Academy members to communicate and voice public policy concerns to their congressional representatives. You can visit the Action Center anytime, located under the Advocacy tab on the Academy’s website.

In addition to speaking with one clear voice, an important piece in guaranteeing the success of dietitians is establishing relationships with key members of Congress who support our efforts. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Political Action Committee builds these relationships by contributing funds to pro-nutrition candidates for federal office.

To elaborate further, these funds support those that support the Academy's mission, vision and public policy priorities. ANDPAC's board of directors does not take party affiliation into consideration when determining distribution of funds. Instead, they consider the candidate's past or present support for the Academy's public policy agenda, perceived need for the candidate's support in the future and the candidate's leadership position or committee assignment.

The ANDPAC receives voluntary donations from Academy members which are, again, contributed in a bipartisan manner to campaigns for candidates who are running for federal office and share the Academy's values.

ANDPAC is the only grassroots political action committee that protects and promotes the nutrition and dietetics profession. Therefore, the success of the Academy's public policy priorities are strengthened by ANDPAC, and with that, ANDPAC is dependent upon our members.

How can you help promote the importance of publically funded positions for RDNs?

  1. Stay informed by reading the Academy's weekly e-newsletter Eat Right Weekly and visiting the "On the Pulse of Public Policy" section of the Academy's online News Center.
  2. Take action through the Academy's Action Alerts.
  3. Donate to ANDPAC: This is the easiest way to get involved. Any contribution, big or small, makes a difference. There is no minimum required.

Developing and maintaining relationships with our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., will continue to position RDNs as the top nutrition-related professionals. Not only could this potentially ensure jobs for students upon graduation, but it can help safeguard Americans' access to the highest level of food and nutrition care, which is vital to preventive health. Help the profession build its voice and move towards a healthier future by supporting the Academy's public policy efforts today!

Has this inspired you to get involved? Contact andpac@eatright.org to volunteer. We are asking every Student member to consider becoming Student Star today – it is only $25 a year. Please donate to ANDPAC now!