My Summer of Nutrition Advocacy in D.C.

Right now is a crucial time for nutrition advocacy. Why? Because Child Nutrition Reauthorization is a year behind schedule. The most recent legislation is the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010!

I recently attended two nutrition advocacy events: the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Public Policy Workshop and the Healthy Schools Campaign's Cooking up Change.

And these sorts of advocacy efforts are, hopefully, starting to pay off. We soon hope to see more work on the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, which includes many of the Academy's recommendations such as increased targeted funding for the Farm to School Program and Summer Meals Program and maintaining the integrity of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Cooking up Change

Cooking up Change is a competition sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign that challenges high school students to create healthy, tasty meals that meet the school nutrition standards. Their advocacy includes an annual cooking competition which concluded this year with an awards ceremony at the U.S. Department of Education. Teams of student chefs from 10 regions across the country met to cook their recipes to be judged by a panel including officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education.

The student teams came from all over the U.S. — Chicago; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Orange County, Calif.; Owensboro, Ky.; Phoenix; St. Paul, Minn.; and Wichita, Kan. — and were so inspiring! They'd worked diligently with school staff, presented in front of a prestigious judging panel and the team from Chicago even performed their spin on Drake's "One Dance"!

Then, the teams celebrated their success by presenting their menus to Congress and other stakeholders. (And, I can tell you firsthand how delicious and creative all the meals were!)

Public Policy Workshop

On June 23 and 24, 2016, I attended the Public Policy Workshop, or PPW, the Academy's annual food and nutrition advocacy summit. All of us attendees learned to voice current nutrition issues to members of Congress and other Academy members.

At PPW, I joined advocates from my home state of Minnesota to meet our in our Congressmen's offices to voice our nutrition concerns. The materials, training and mentoring I received at PPW prepared me to advocate for Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Tweet this the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, and Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act — and reminded me to always thank our members of Congress for the work they are doing on our behalf. I am already looking forward to next year's Public Policy Workshop!

Do you want to get involved in nutrition advocacy? Use the Academy's Action Alert system to engage your members of Congress and identify new ways you can help.

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Taylor Aasand
Taylor Aasand is an intern in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Washington, D.C., office. She is completing her coordinated MPH program from the University of Minnesota.