State Public Policy, Legislation & Advocacy

STATE PUBLIC POLICY, LEGISLATION &ADVOCACY

General

Massachusetts Public Policy

As the state affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (“the Academy”), the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MAND) promotes public policy in line with those of the Academy. The public policy priorities of the Academy can be found at:http://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/advocacy.

MAND's vision is to “Optimize the health of Massachusetts residents through food and nutrition,” and our mission is to “Empower MAND members to be Massachusetts food and nutrition experts and leaders.” MAND’s public policy at the state level seeks to achieve both.

MAND Public Policy Panel

Every state affiliate of the Academy has a group of elected and appointed members who make up its Public Policy Panel (PPP). The Academy outlines PPP positions and provides guidance and support to affiliate PPP members. The Director of Grassroots Advocacy in the Academy’s Washington, DC, office is available to PPP members to assist and guide them in their public policy and advocacy efforts.

For a quick guide to PPP positions, click here 

Massachusetts State Legislature

Formally called “The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” the Massachusetts legislature is responsible for enacting laws in the state, as well as passing an annual budget. It is comprised of a Senate, with 40 members, and a House of Representatives, with 160 members, all of whom serve two-year terms. Each new two-year legislative session begins on the first Wednesday of each odd-numbered year (e.g., January 4, 2017), and ends its formal session on the last day of July of the even-numbered year, with informal sessions running through the end of December.

MAND tracks bills which impact the health and nutrition of Massachusetts residents, as well as those which impact our profession and dietetic licensure. We also track annual state budgets, as theseaffect government spending on programs which employ our members and provide nutrition, health and prevention services for state residents.

For additional information on the Massachusetts legislature, visit:https://malegislature.gov.

MAND encourages all members to call upon their state senators and representatives to support bills and budget items in line with our public policy and legislative priorities, as well as to introduce them to our organization and the many important roles of RDNs and NDTRs working across the state.The PPP would be happy to answer any questions you have about state-level legislation and contacting your legislators! Please email us at publicpolicy@eatrightma.org.

Legislation

Legislation - Bills & Public Hearings

MAND tracks bills introduced in the legislature and attends public hearings at the State House. Hearings provide an opportunity for members of the public to provide “verbal testimony” and speak directly to legislators to voice their support for or opposition to certain bills. Public hearings also provide an opportunity to submit “written testimony,” position statements for or against a bill. MAND reaches out to members when it seeks input on a bill for which we plan to provide written or verbal testimony. Many times, we are looking for members with career expertise in the area impacted by the bill, such as elder care, healthy food access, public food assistance programs and public health. We urge any member to get involved in this process, and hope to hear from you when called upon to provide input.

 

An example of a current bill in line with the Academy’s and MAND’s public policy priorities is S.643/H.2480, An Act to promote public health through the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, requesting renewed funding for the continuation of statewide public health campaigns and programs. You can learn more about the PWTF by visiting: https://mapublichealth.org/2017/04/10/action-alert-protect-the-prevention-and-wellness-trust-fund-pwtf/.

 

Annual Legislative Event - Day on the Hill

The Academy encourages each state affiliate to hold an annual state-level legislative event. To promote its mission, provide members an opportunity to engage in the state legislative process and introduce state legislators to our organization and profession, MAND hold its “Day on the Hill” each March at the State House.

Each year’s event has a theme, such as nutrition in prevention and wellness, or creative solutions to reduce food insecurity, and MAND members working in the specific area being highlighted are asked to speak at the event. The event kicks off with welcome remarks from a state senator or representative who supports public policy and legislation related to nutrition, health and well-being. This year’s event also served to present a proclamation from Governor Charlie Baker of the official proclamation that March 2017 was “National Nutrition Month® in Massachusetts.”

MAND needs the support of all members, RDNs, NDTRs, dietetic interns and nutrition students alike, to make the event a success. If you would like to learn more about Day on the Hill, please email the PPP at:  publicpolicy@eatrightma.org.

To see photos of Day on the Hill 2017, click here

To see the National Nutrition Month® proclamation, click here

Public Policy Partnerships 

MAND is an organizational member of several state associations and stakeholder groups. MAND’s PPP works with them to impact public policy to improve public health, especially increasing access to healthy, affordable food and reducing rates of food insecurity and its long-term consequences on health.

One such organization is the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA), who puts out “action alerts” at key times in the legislative cycle, such as when a bill is up for a vote by the legislative committee of jurisdiction. MAND's PPP has a liaison to MPHA, who joins conference calls and activities related to its Act FRESH campaign “…taking action to build a better future for Massachusetts families by improving access to healthy, affordable food and safe public spaces for physical activity.”

The key piece of legislation in this campaignis the Massachusetts Food Trust Program.As part of MPHA’s stakeholder group, MAND was involved in the successfullegislative campaign to establish the Massachusetts Food Trust in 2014. After two years of continued advocacy, the legislature committed $6 million in capital funding and $100,000 to cover administrative costs of the Food Trust. Howeverit took another year of coordinated advocacy that legislators finally agreed in May 2017 to “release” $1 million in capital funds to begin the real work of funding private and public ventures in healthy food retail.

For more information on the Massachusetts Food Trust, visit: https://mapublichealth.org/priorities/access-to-healthy-affordable-food/ma-food-trust-program/.

Regulation

Regulation - DPH & DPL

In addition to legislation, MAND tracks regulation at the state level. Regulations are the specific rules created for carrying out legislation. Regulatory agencies, such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH),set and revise regulations over time, and, as with legislation, seek public comment when they do so. For example, in 2014 DPH sought to update school nutrition standards for public schools, at which time many individuals and organizations, including MAND, submitted written testimony urging DPH to uphold strict standards regarding the amount of sugar allowed in milk and àla carte items sold in schools across the state.

Other regulations impact our profession directly.The Division of Professional Licensure (DPL)oversees the Board of Registration of Dietitians and Nutritionists, which grants licenses to qualified dietitians and oversees licensees to ensure they are complying with all requirements relating to ethical practice, ongoing continuing education and license renewal. InAugust 2016, DPL staff conducted a “listening tour” across the state to hear any concerns voiced by the public about any licensed profession; MAND members attended to make sure that it was present to hear any concerns about dietetic licensure and the regulation of the practice of dietetics.

Dietetic Licensure

Massachusetts is one of 46 states with dietetic licensure or certification. After many years of grassroots advocacy work performed by hundreds of MAND members, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill in 1999 establishing the Board of Registration of Dietitians and Nutritionists and creating the credential “licensed dietitian/nutritionist” or “LDN” and the process for obtaining state licensure, thereby creating an extra level of protection for the public against those practicing without the proper education, supervised practice and ethical guidelines requisite of the profession.

For a history and overview of dietetic licensure in Massachusetts, click here

Consumer Protection and Licensure rationale from the Academy, click here

The Academy asks all state affiliates to appoint a Consumer Protection Coordinator (CPC). MAND’s CPC serves as the liaison to the Board of Registration of Dietitians and Nutritionists, attendingits quarterly meetings to represent MAND, facilitate clear and effective communication between the Board and MAND and address questions pertaining to licensure and continuing education requirements.

To learn more about dietetic licensure, see Licensure Information, located under Professional Development.

 

Advocacy

MAND & Advocacy

If you are interested in MAND’s public policy activities, such as responding to “action alerts” to support nutrition legislation, or getting involved in our activities to promote our profession, consider joining MAND’s “grassroots network,” an email list of MAND members who wish to stay updated about public policy. If so, please email publicpolicy@eatrightma.org. MAND has many ways to get involved and we would love for you to do so!

See the About section to meet the current members of the PPP

 

Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting

Don't miss our annual meeting Friday, March 23, 2018.

Public Policy

Public Policy

Do You Want to Make a Difference for Your Profession and Your Community?  Visit our Public Policy Section.