What is Advocacy?
Your elected officials, whether at the city, county, state or federal level, need to hear from you! Part of advocacy is letting lawmakers know where you stand on important issues. When it comes to food, nutrition and health, YOU are the experts. That’s why it’s vital that you are at the table assisting lawmakers with answers to the many questions and decisions they have on policy issues.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has many wonderful resources for how to be an expert at advocacy.
Public policy is an important component in many areas of the Michigan Academy’s strategic plan, including those highlighted in red:
|Goal 1: The Michigan Public Trusts and Chooses RDNs as Food and Nutrition Experts||Goal 2: The Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Improves the Health of Michigan Consumers||Goal 3: Members and Prospective Members View the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as Key to Professional Success|
|1. Create a respected brand||1. Provide opportunities for members to participate in the legislative and regulatory processes at local, state and federal levels to impact food and nutrition polices||1. Assure competence through education, accreditation and certification|
|2. Establish value to the public through effective programs services, initiatives offered by RDNs||2. Strengthen and maintain relationships with external organizations to further the Michigan Academy’s initiatives||2. Provide state-of-the-art professional development opportunities for career success|
|3. Take proactive positions based on evidence||3. Inform the public about ways to improve health||3. Provide relevant and valued products and services for diverse member audiences|
|4. Work cooperatively with the National dietetics community||4. Equip members to use research in their work||4. Provide leadership opportunities to enhance knowledge and skills for success in practice, workplace and communities|
|5. Strengthen members’ cultural competence to address health disparities||5. Provide research and resources that can be translated into evidence based practice|
|6. Attract members from underrepresented groups|
How You Can Help
The Michigan Academy’s Public Policy Panel volunteers their time to monitor legislative activity and respond as needed with meetings and contacts to key players in the legislative process (link to their position descriptions). However, they are only 5 people! In order to be heard by your legislators, all 2,000+ Michigan Academy members need to be involved!!
There are a number of ways to be involved:
- Respond to action alerts – both federal and state
- Download the MPHI “Find a Bill” app and stay up-to-date with any new state legislation
- Write to your legislator and/or elected official
- Visit your legislator and/or elected official
- Visit the Academy’s Advocacy page
- Visit your companies or organizations public policy, advocacy or governance page to see what they are following
Who is My Elected Official?
There are 2 chambers of the Michigan Legislature – the House of Representatives and the Senate.
There are 110 Representatives in the House. They are elected in even numbered years and serve 2-year terms. They are limited to serving 3 terms, however, they can serve more in certain circumstances (i.e. re-distribution of districts).
There are a number of committees and sub-committees in the House where nutrition and health legislation are discussed. Some of these include:
- Banking and Financial Services
- Energy and Technology
- Families, Children and Seniors
- Government Operations
- Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation
- Community Health
- Higher Education
- Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs
- Health Policy
To find your Representative, CLICK HERE.
There are 38 Senators in the Senate. They are elected the same time as the governor and serve a 4-year term. The Senate also has a number of committees and sub-committees where nutrition and health legislation is discussed. Listed below are some examples:
- Economic Development
- Energy and Technology
- Families, Seniors and Human Services
- Government Operations
- Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes
- Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
- Reforms, Restructuring and Reinvention
- Health Policy
- K-12, School Aid, Education
- Department of Human Services
- Department of Licensing and Regulation Affairs
To find your Senator, CLICK HERE.
To contact the Governor, CLICK HERE.
To contact the Michigan Attorney General, CLICK HERE.
- File a complaint about a business, company or individual
- Consumer Protection
- Public Integrity
For more information about how government works and is structured, CLICK HERE.
Visiting Your Legislator
Consumers need expert nutrition information and education. That’s why is so important that RD’s and RDN’s need to be involved in decision making related to nutrition and health policy. One of the most effective ways to get your message across is sitting down and talking with your elected official. This can be done by:
- Setting up a meeting with your elected official either in Washington DC, Lansing, or in their district office
- Attending a local town hall meeting sponsored by your legislator
- Attending a breakfast, lunch or dinner events
- Introducing yourself to them when you see them
- Talking with their legislative aide, secretary or other office support staff
- Following them on twitter and other social media sites
- Volunteer on their campaign
Below are some tips when visiting your legislator;
- Have clear talking points
- Identify the topic right away
- Assume they know nothing!
- Know who you are meeting!
- Aide’s and support staff are your best friends
- Know something personal about them
- Be on time
- Be polite
- Refer to them as Senator or Representative
- You may hear objections
- Tell them who you are representing
- “Intern at University of Michigan”, “Clinical Dietitian at McLaren Northern Michigan”
- Provide evidence and research of the value of dietetic services (www.andeal.org)
- Share personal stories and relate how you made a difference
- Tip sheets are great resources to leave for your legislator. If you are creating your own, remember:
- To make them stand out from others
- To include your name and contact information (phone, e-mail)
- To keep them short and simple
- The Academy, as well as many dietetic practice groups and the Michigan Academy, have a variety of free tip sheets for you to use.
- Thank them for their time
Writing to Your Legislator
- Try to stick to one page
- First paragraph: state your purpose and identify yourself
- Stick with one subject or issue
- For a bill: cite by name and number
- “HB______” or “SB______” or “Public Act _____”
- Be factual
- Avoid emotional philosophical arguments
- Relay it to their constituents
- If legislation is wrong – say so
- Indicate likely adverse effects
- Suggest a better approach
- Do not demand support
- Include your name and contact information
- E-mail, phone number and return address (including where you live)
State Public Policy
Your 2021-2022 Michigan Public Policy Panel
- Michigan Academy President: Sara Harmon
- Michigan Academy President-elect: Heather Dover
- Public Policy Coordinator: Takara Page (PPC-elect: Deanne Kelleher)
- State Policy Representative: Kristi Chipman (SPR-elect: Randalynn Hajek)
- Nutrition Services Payment Specialist: Sarah Clark
- Consumer Protection Coordinator: Claire Hammer (CPC-elect: Samantha Walker)
- Delegate: Cassie Whiddon
Federal Public Policy
Federal Regulations for RDs/RDNs and Order Writing
Read more regarding the rules and implementation steps for Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists to write orders in hospitals and long-term care facilities:
- Practice Tips: Hospital Regulation, Ordering Privileges for the RDN
- Practice Tips: Implementation Steps, Ordering Privileges for the RDN
- Practice Tips: Reform Requirements LTC Facilities
What are our Public Policy Teams doing?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as key members of your Michigan Academy public policy team, are working on a range of issues to improve the nutritional status of individuals here and around the globe. The Academy is focused on seven priority areas:
- Aging: Progressive policies can better address the needs of older adults. These policies include roles of the RDN in the Older Americans Act.
- Child Nutrition: It is important that children and adolescents have access to a safe, adequate and nutritious food supply and nutrition intervention.
- Food Safety: Food borne illness is preventable, costly and often unreported problem that affects tens of thousands of Americans each year. Those most vulnerable are the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and children under the age of 4, who have the highest incidence of laboratory-confirmed infections. (Read More)
- Health Literacy and Nutrition Advancement: Communicate healthful eating messages to the public that emphasize a balance of foods, rather than any one food, nutrient or meal.
- Medical Nutrition Therapy: Cost-effective and evidence-based interventions that produce a change health practices are likely to lead to substantial reductions in the incidence and severity of the leading causes of death in the US. (Read about Step-by-Step Guide to Medicare Medical Nutrition Therapy Reimbursement and information about Getting Paid)
- Nutrition Monitoring and Research: This area encompasses a large set of activities including: the relationship of food to health, the food supply, food composition and health behavior, food consumption, and nutrient requirements and utilization. Research in these areas are the basis of policy issues related to such items as food assistance, dietary guidelines, food safety, and food labeling. (Read More)
- Obesity/Overweight/Healthy Weight Management: Unless steps are taken to stop the rising incidence of overweight and obesity, the impact on people’s lives and the cost of addressing health programs related to weight issues would be catastrophic.
Affordable Care Act and the RD/RDN/NDTR
The goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to transform health care by addressing some of the problems in our health care system that stood in the way of achieving the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “Triple Aim”: (1) Better healthcare by improving all aspects of patient care, (2) Better health by encouraging healthier lifestyles in the entire population, and (3) Lower health care costs by promoting preventative medicine. All of which can be achieved through the expertise of RD’s, RDN’s and NDTR’s!
Each of the titles of the ACA includes opportunities for nutrition experts. Listed below are the titles and links to learn more about YOUR role in the ACA:
I. Quality, Affordable Healthcare for All Americans
II. Role of Public Programs
III. Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Care
IV. Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health
V. Health Care Workforce
VI. Transparency and Program Integrity
VII. Improving Access to Innovative Therapies
VIII. Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act – since repealed
XI. Revenue Provisions
X. Re-authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act
To learn more, visit these links:
Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit
The Academy’s Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit, formerly known as the Public Policy Workshop, is an exciting program that nutrition professionals, if given the opportunity, should attend. The leadership, communication and advocacy training and the valuable information and networking opportunities that you receive during this summit are priceless. For more information, visit the Academy’s Advocacy Summit page.