It is March!! Known to some as the month that the clocks go back on Daylight Savings Time or the month that “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” (who else CANNOT wait for the latter part of that old adage?). But, for those of us dedicated nutrition professionals, March will always be NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH!!
So, during National Nutrition Month, what better way to celebrate than pay homage to the CORE of what we do as dietitians and nutrition professionals—the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The DGA is the nutrition policy for our country, developed every 5 years based on the most recent consensus science.
But, this post is not about what the DGA are. Or even why they are important. Rather, this post is about why each and every one of us should engage.
The Secretary of USDA, the Department leading this edition of the Dietary Guidelines, said upon the announcement of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, “In our continuing commitment to transparency and customer service, we invite the American public to engage in this process. We want to hear from everyone and all viewpoints. I encourage everyone with an interest to attend public meetings and to send comments through the Federal Register once the committee begins their work.”
Should I engage? How should I engage? First, it’s important to understand the stages of DGA development to recognize the important contact points:
1. Topics are identified. (CHECK)
2. Committee of experts (DGAC) is appointed. (CHECK)
3. Scientific recommendations are delivered by the DGAC.
4. DGA policy is developed by USDA and HHS.
5. DGA policy is implemented and disseminated within and outside the government to inform, well, everything nutrition in the US.
Next, it’s critical to look within your mission and determine: What are the critical contact points with the DGA? Is it scientific examination? Is it policy development? Communication/implementation? For most, the answer will be all of the above.
We’ll wrap up with a plea, not dissimilar to what was expressed by Secretary Sonny Purdue in the press release immediately following the announcement of the DGAC. It’s not enough to understand and follow the DGAC deliberations and the DGA policy development process. Rather, it will be important to:
- Identify goals and objectives (short- and long-term);
- Know your target audience(s) and message(s);
- Develop an engagement plan with tactics and timing; and, of course,
The first meeting of the DGAC is coming up March 28 and 29 and Nutrition On Demand can help! We have been involved with the DGA process from the inside out and will help you in your efforts to understand the DGA and engage effectively. What can a little Nutrition On Demand do for you? Check out our services page and contact us to talk!