Today’s statement of concern comes from Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD (Twitter handle: @EmilyFonnesbeckRD):
“I’ve been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) for about 12 years, and the past few years have left me conflicted about renewing my membership. In light of recent events outlined so well by Dietitians For Professional Integrity, I unfortunately don’t feel AND represents my own nutrition practices and beliefs. If I do not renew my membership, however, I would be unable to continue to be a member of the Dietetic Practice Groups I enjoy being a part of. I love to network, learn new ideas, and value the professional relationships I have built through these groups. For those reasons, I have chosen to renew my membership with AND for the coming year.
I have come to realize that we as RDs have much more in common than not; at our roots, we all want the same thing. Discontinuing my membership would prevent me from being part of the solution, as we are a more powerful voice together. I don’t think we should approach this topic from “who is wrong” and “who is right,” but rather think about what is the best way to educate the American public, which is already confused and frustrated with nutrition information. They need us, as nutrition professionals, to stand united, be transparent, and most of all, embody trustworthiness. I feel that the current corporate sponsorship model impedes that trust.
I have had numerous clients come to me with many questions when they see articles about our corporate sponsorship. Based on our work together, they are surprised and confused that I am a member of an organization whose perceived values (in their mind) differ from mine. There is a disconnect; they can sense it and it is impossible to justify.
Much of the conversation regarding sponsors revolves around finances, but I would say there is a bigger issue here than just money. However, I have never been involved in planning meetings or conferences and am sure a lot goes into that process that I am not aware of. I know there are two sides to every story. Having said that, I am more than willing to pay a higher annual due if it means ridding our organization of sponsors that negatively affect our credibility and reputation. And, I am also sure there are ways to reduce costs on conferences and meetings. For example, I wouldn’t mind going paperless (and already have on publications and notices), I don’t need a conference goodie bag, could do without a food expo and am able to volunteer time if needed. I attend these meetings for networking and solid, nutrition information.
I would just love to see more of this kind of “what are the possibilities” dialogue happening. I am looking forward to another great year with AND. I hope this coming year brings honest and open discussions about the future.”