The Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (TAND) Advocacy pillar has been busy this Fall with Federal legislative issues pertaining to our members. On June 25rd and 26th 12 TAND members traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Public Policy Workshop (PPW) on behalf of all Tennessee RDN/LDNs.
Our lobbying efforts focused on advocating for the “Value of Nutrition Services in Prevention and Treatment”. The Prevention and Public Health Fund is the nation’s only dedicated investment in prevention and it allows state and local communities to implement innovative programs to improve the health of their community. Currently, preventive and wellness services, as well as chronic disease self-management, are considered essential health benefits, which may be included in a state’s benchmark plan. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by RDNs is an evidence-based intervention for all nutrition-related chronic diseases, which is consistent with USPSTF recommendations and national clinical guidelines. Allowing insurance coverage of MNT for all nutrition-related chronic diseases will lead to reduced long-term costs associated with the complications of chronic diseases. We urged Congress to maintain bipartisan investment in the Prevention Fund to allow coverage of cost-effective MNT provided by RDNs for all nutrition-related chronic diseases.
Secondly, we advocated for support of nutrition education programs and the Farm Bill. Nutrition education paired with nutrition assistance programs is critical tool that can improve health and food security. The Farm Bill reauthorizes two effective nutrition education programs:
· SNAP Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention grants (SNAP-Ed)
· Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)
These effective nutrition education programs coordinate and create synergies to maximize limited funding to meet the need for nutrition education programming and empower families to make healthy choices. Many programs are led by highly qualified staff like Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who track outcomes and strive to improve the programs to be most effective. We encouraged Congress to reauthorize and fully fund SNAP-Ed and EFNEP in the Farm Bill.
Did you want to attend PPW but couldn’t get away from work or your day to day activities? Members of Congress will be back in Tennessee for a work period from August 1st to September 4th, 2017. This is a great time for TAND Academy members and public policy leaders to connect with their U.S. Senators or Representatives. Please see your district policy member for assistance. For those that are a bit intimated with face to face visits, please make every effort to visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Action Center to make your voice heard on all current legislative issues via email/web forum. If you have not done so please take action here . One of the goals for the Advocacy pillar is to increase participation with action alerts so you might see more talk on social media. Please feel free to like, share or tweet our posts to help our members of Congress know that nutrition is important and that we are the experts in this subject matter. Lastly, do you have a passion for policy and want to start learning and getting involved? Please email me at angiewallick.RD@gmail.com. We would love for you to join our team!
Angie Wallick, MS, RDN, CSR, LDN
2016-2017 TAND Public Policy Coordinator