Registered dietitians, students and dietetic interns met at the state Capitol Wednesday to celebrate Registered Dietitian Day and increase their visibility in future legislative decisions.
More than 150 members of the Arizona Dietetic Association and ASU’s dietetics program met with legislators outside of the Capitol to promote the role of the registered dietitian, or R.D.
“We really want to bring awareness about registered dietitians, like who (we) are and what we do. We are the food and nutrition experts,” said Lynn Ladd, current AZDA president. “We wanted to be here at the Capitol to reach our legislators as a way of awareness so when they come across issues related to nutrition, they know who to contact for expert advice, especially when making laws.”
Starting at 8 a.m., the AZDA handed out nutrition flyers, gift bags and yogurt parfaits provided by Kind Granola. Passersby met with dietitians and were given nutrition information and pamphlets, as well as granola bars.
Preserving the R.D. credential is an up-and-coming topic in the Legislature because Arizona is one of the last states in the U.S. to ensure regulation of title protection.
“I hope one day that the R.D. will be as easily recognizable as R.N. or M.D.,” said Cindy Thomas, the AZDA state policy representative. “With health-care reform, dietitians can be left out. We might find ourselves left out of opportunities to share nutrition education.”
State Sen. Rich Crandall, who introduced in January Senate Bill 1061, which would allow schools to opt out of the school lunch program, stopped by the R.D. booth and discussed nutrition topics with AZDA board members.
ASU students from the Downtown campus also attended the event.
“I had a great time,” said dietetics senior Kaileen Baleshiski. “I got to meet the R.D. community and fellow nutrition students. I had no idea R.D.s were so involved in public policy.”
Linda Lazzar, a dietetic intern and prospective R.D., said she felt it is important for students to get involved with the nutrition community to help protect their future profession.
“I think it’s important for students to come out and support each other and their mentors,” Lazzar said. “Not many people know about our profession, and it is important to teach others about what we do.”
The AZDA plans to meet with legislators one on one during Legislative Day on March 29 to further promote the dietetics profession and public policy making.
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Correction: March 15, 2012
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the Arizona Dietetic Association as the ADA. The correct acronym is AZDA, as ADA stands for American Dietetic Association.