Author Biographical Information

  • Jessica L. Garay, PhD, RDN, FAND is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at Syracuse University.
  • Meghan Donnelly, MS, RDN, CDN is the Nutrition Services Manager at Dr. Schar USA.
  • Amy Herman, RDN is an Executive Territory Business Manager at Reckitt.
  • Kathryn Lawson, MS, RDN, is the Senior Manager for Regulatory and Scientific Affairs at Nestle.
  • Sarah Martin, MPP, RDN, LDN, is the Nutritionist, Culinary Operations at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.
  • Leah Reed, MS, RDN, LDN is a Clinical Dietitian/Health Promotions Specialist at Clarke County Hospital.


Background: Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and other health professionals should be involved in advocacy efforts related to food access and health care. However, education about, and opportunities to actively participate in, public policy are often limited for dietetics students. The goal of this project was to identify how dietetics programs meet ACEND standards relating to public policy in their current and/or accredited program. Methods: An online survey was sent to dietetics faculty at U.S. higher education institutions. Survey questions focused on how programs currently meet ACEND standards for public policy or plan to meet standards in their dietetics program. Respondents were also asked to identify barriers, opportunities and resources related to implementing policy-related activities. Results: Of 54 total responses, 47 were partially or fully complete, representing 37 different institutions. Of these, 44% offer a dietetic internship, 38% offer a didactic program, and 13% offer a coordinated program. 40% of institutions have, or plan to start, a FEM program. Across all programs, writing a letter to a legislator and/or formal education about public policy were the most common strategies used to meet ACEND standards. Federal nutrition policies and professional dietetics issues were identified as the most important policy-related topics for students to learn about. Nearly all respondents were interested in adopting a pre-made curriculum designed to meet ACEND standards that included educational activities, sample assignments, and rubrics. Conclusion: Improvements are needed in the education and training provided to dietetics students in order to create an empowered dietetics profession that confidently advocates for policy improvements. The transition to the FEM presents an opportunity to develop hands-on educational activities related to public policy that can be implemented across the dietetics curriculum.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.