A Dietitian’s Guide to Effective Legislative Participation
“There is but one element of Government, and that is THE PEOPLE. From this springs all government” – John Adams
The Legislative Process
Every year, our representative legislators meet to engage in public decision-making process with the objective of reaching consensus. By voting, we choose which legislators we want to represent us, and in turn how they will vote on a wide variety of issues. To effectively do their job, legislators rely heavily on external sources – one main source being citizens of their district.
2 Quick Political Refresher Videos
4-Step Process to Make Your Voice Heard
Step 1 – Do your Homework!
Identify issues and/or bills and do your homework around them. Thorough research allows you to present your viewpoint with confidence and credibility. When speaking about issues that we are directly connected with, it is important to share personal experiences, as these go much further than simply stating facts.
Step 2 – Get to know your legislator
It couldn’t be easier! Legislators are dedicated politicians, but are no different than you or I. While we should respect them, we should also not be intimidated by them. They were elected by us to represent us. Even if our legislator does not share all of the same views as us, it is still possible to develop a strong and meaningful relationship with them. Find your legislator here.
Step 3 – Contact them!
There are so many ways to do this. You can:
- Write a letter. Handwritten letters are most effective since they are so rare. Make your letters brief, to the point, clear, and formal. Include your contact information for follow up questions.
- Send an e-mail message. Like letters, emails should be concise and clear. This is one of the easiest ways to contact your legislator.
- Call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-562-6000. You can leave a brief message that their Legislative Assistants will listen to and rely to your legislator. The assistants are always very pleasant and willing to help.
- Visit your legislator in Olympia! Setting up an appointment while they are in session couldn’t be easier. Just got to this website to find your legislator, and then email/call them to set up an appointment. If this is your first time, don’t worry, you can click here for a sample script to help guide conversation!
- Set up an appointment when your legislator is not in session. Legislators have down time where they go home to visit their district, and it is quite easy to set up a 30 minute meeting with them at a local coffee shop.
- Testify before a committee. Make your views and positions known by testifying before a committee that is having a public hearing on an issue or bill.
- Attend a Town Hall Meeting. Most legislators conduct periodic town hall meetings at various locations in their district. This is a good opportunity to meet your legislator and to express your views in an informal setting.
Step 4 – Follow up!
After a response from your legislator (via email, letter, call, or in person meeting), send them a thank you! Remind them that you are a Registered Dietitian, and that they can contact you if they have any other questions on future legislation. They do appreciate the follow up, and will be more likely to reach out in the future!
- Be well prepared, and if you don’t know the answer – don’t pretend to! Be honest and they will appreciate it!
- Make communication concise and impactful. Run on conversations, letters, or phone calls are wasting their valuable time.
- Don’t argue with your legislator. If you disagree on an issue, thank them for their time, and let them know if they have any future questions that they can contact you.
- Legislators are employed for us, by us! They want to hear from you, and we do have an influence over the political process!
- If you have specific questions, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org anytime, or call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
We are experts in the field of food and nutrition.
Our professional opinions matter!
Key Websites for Advocating
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Policy Action Center
- Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (WSAND)
- Washington State Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition
- Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Legislative Action Center
- Puget Sound Regional Council local and state food system reports and resources
- PCC Natural Markets policy news updates
- Washington Food Coalition
- Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition
- The Washington State Sustainable Food & Farming Network