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Dietitians Get New Resource for Food Systems Approach

By: Allison Righter

Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) just became better equipped to work within a broader food systems approach. This month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) published a new set of Standards of Professional Performance (SOPP) in Sustainable, Resilient, and Healthy Food and Water Systems—this is one huge step forward in advancing the profession to more readily and effectively promote healthy food systems. Created by a working group within the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, these SOPPs are a key resource for current and future RDNs to assess their current skill levels and to identify areas for further professional development in food systems work. As an RDN passionate about optimizing nutrition through a broader food systems approach, I highly value this resource and view it as tangible evidence that the dietetics profession is evolving and becoming more prepared to address the pressing needs of securing and strengthening our food and water supplies now and well into the future.

According to Food System Consultant and CLF Visiting Scholar, Kate Clancy, who provided comments and guidance on the document, “Angie Tagtow and her colleagues have done an amazing job of pulling together material on sustainable food and water systems in the AND framework. They hope that the SOPPs will be integrated into all areas of dietetic practice, and that their availability will encourage many dietitians and nutritionists to become more knowledgeable, skillful, and competent around the issues of food and water sustainability.”

Members of the AND can access the SOPPs for free to begin assessing and developing a plan for advancing their knowledge and skills in sustainable, resilient and healthy food and water systems. Many additional resources for nutrition professionals are available on the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (HEN) website, the most recent and impressive of which includes, Teaching Food Systems and Sustainability in Nutrition Education and Dietetic Training: Lessons for Educators. This past summer, CLF incorporated some of these materials into a brand new one-week rotation for five dietetic interns in the School’s coordinated MSPH-RD program, of which I am a graduate. Read about their experiences in the blog series (below) to get a sense for how much they valued the exposure to community-based food work after spending weeks practicing medical nutrition therapy within a hospital setting. We must continue to find opportunities to incorporate food systems principles and experience into the training of current and future RDNs.

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