This year for legislative day, we had about 50 dietitians, students and interns participate in the annual WSAND gathering. What a great way to get involved at the state level and help to make RDNs more visible in the community. Over the years, our faces have become better recognized by legislators to the point where WSAND gets a prime location (no longer open to the public) to host our legislative day just by knowing some of the legislator’s assistants!
Our first task was to find our legislators and would encourage you to do the same. Go to leg.wa.gov and click on “Find your district” on the left side of the website (or click the drop down menu if on your mobile). This site not only tells you about your local representatives but also about all the 200+ bills the house and senate are voting on right now.
For our event, our first speaker was Erin Dziedzic, founder of Dziedzic Public Affairs and a lobbyist for non-profits that focus community wellness. She gave some great insight on what the legislators have been up to during this session and some tips when meeting with them. Our next speaker was Mitch Denning, who talked about school nutrition related bills that are being voted on this year. Lastly, Joan Zerzan finished with her insights on how to make our profession more visible in the community—a much needed reminder to get our faces out there!
The morning concluded by visits to the capitol to meet with legislators, their assistants, to observe active senate and house sessions and to leave information sheets and MyPlate magnets as lingering reminders of us. WSAND also extended an invitation to our leaders to join us for an informal lunch.
The highlight of the day, however, was to celebrate the recent passing of Bill 1508, which allows schools to participate in Breakfast after the Bell initiative. Although it still needs funding, this was a huge win after four years of lobbying and fighting. Read more in this Seattle Times article.