Almost 70 dietitians and nutrition students gathered together at the Georgia State Capitol for GAND’s annual Legislative Day. You might be asking yourself – “just what IS Legislative Day?”. Let me offer a quick recap:
Upon arrival to the Capitol, all attending RD’s and students convened together with Elizabeth Appley, GAND’s lobbyist, to prepare to meet with our legislators on the ropes. During this power hour and fueled with hot Dunkin Donuts coffee (it was early!), we reviewed pending legislation related to nutrition and licensure and discussed strategies for personalizing conversations with our state senators and representatives. Once we were fully prepped and energized, we headed over to the marble staircase in the atrium of the Capitol for a photo with Governor Deal. After smiling pretty for the paparazzi, Governor Deal presented GAND with a proclamation declaring February 16-22, 2016 as Licensed Dietitian Week (pretty cool, right?). We were all feeling pretty energized by then, so we quickly split into teams and headed up to the Senate and House floors. There, we patiently waited with the crowd of other constituents from various organizations around the State in hopes of getting a few moments of facetime with our legislators. And our efforts paid off! A number of GAND members were able to connect with either their Senator or Representative and speak for a few minutes on legislative concerns and the importance of registered dietitians in combating nutrition issues plaguing our State. Following our advocacy efforts on the ropes, we treated ourselves to a delicious, nutritious lunch provided by Marietta City Schools. We had a selection of 3 entrée salads, fresh fruit, and Georgia peanuts. Having contacted all Georgia elected officials ahead of time to extend an invitation to join us for lunch, we had a number of senators, representatives, and legislative aides stop by for a quick bite and conversation. Among them, Senator Jesse Stone (District 23), Rep. Rahn Mayo (Decatur), Rep. Taylor Bennett (Brookhaven), Rep. Sheila Jones (Atlanta), Rep. Sheri Gilligan (Cumming), and Rep. Emory Dunahoo, Jr. (Gainesville).
So, now that you’ve heard about Legislative Day 2016 and you’ve got a better idea of what this day of advocacy is all about, I’m positive that you’re now thinking “Count me in for Legislative Day 2017!”. Right?
In the meantime, start thinking about ways that you can advocate for the health of our clients and this profession that we love throughout the other days of the year. In the coming weeks, I am going to begin working on the details for “Invite your Legislators to Work” week. Stay tuned for more information on that. And, as always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or ideas related to advocacy or state policy.
Contributed by Marti Toner, RD LD, GAND State Media Representative