My trip to Washington, DC, was AMAZING!
I was there as a representative of the Chicago Dietetic Association, for the Public Policy Workshop (PPW) put on by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It was two days of speakers and interactive workshops, and then I got to meet with staff members of our Congressmen and women about:
- working towards licensure to practice nutrition in their states
- promoting a Farm Bill that will maintain funding for SNAP and SNAP nutrition education–programs that give low-income families in our country better access to foods, as well as the education to prepare healthy meals for their families
- fighting for increased coverage by Medicare and Medicaid for nutrition services toward the prevention of chronic diseases, like Diabetes
- pushing for maintaining the coverage of nutrition services for HIV/AIDS patients (the Ryan White CARE Act), because proper nutrition is critical for immune system health of these patients
- And continuing to support the nutrition portion of the Older Americans Act, which provides meals for seniors who are home-bound, as well as at senior centers. These services improve the health and nutrition status of the elderly, which in turn means less time spent in hospitals and less money spent by Medicare.
Going into the conference, I was pretty nervous about what to say to the legislators! However, these issues are extremely important, and it was also important for me to promote my profession to Congress, so I did my research, worked with fellow RD’s to prepare a message that would leave an impact, and we gathered up our courage to go to the meetings. My group met with the staff of 4 U.S. Representatives from Illinois (unfortunately the Reps themselves weren’t available), and we were able to convey the importance of these bills and will hopefully have the support of these Representatives as the bills are voted on later this year! It wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be, and I definitely encourage everyone to try meeting with their legislators at some point!
I wasn’t able to get much sightseeing in, but I did do ALOT of walking! We passed by the White House, strolled past the Smithsonian museums, and stood in awe at the beauty of our US Capitol Building. We also navigated the Metro system, which seemed like it was miles underground compared with the Chicago “L”!
Health-wise, I’m pretty proud of my habits while traveling in DC. I watched what and how much I ate, drank water constantly throughout the day, walked all over the place, and even got up super early one morning to run. Many of the meals were provided which made it easy to stick to healthy choices when it was being planned by dietitians! I never had the bloaty, gross feeling that I was so worried about before the trip, and the only thing that I think I could have improved on was the amount of sleep that I got–I was too excited to sleep!
Overall, I’d say the trip was a success!