Friday, March 13, 2015

Corporate Relationships and Cheesy Facts

By now you have heard the news of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic's Partnership between Kraft Foods and Kid's Eat Right, which was recently criticized in a New York Times Article on March 12th 2015. 

To see Academy President Sonja L. Connor introduce the initiative in her March 2015 address click here (starts at minute 2:02) or visit the Kids Eat Right: CheesyFacts page for more information (coming soon!). 

Kraft Singles will be the first product to receive the Kid's Eat Right endorsement. But, while Kraft Foods dietitian Kari Ryan touts the nutrient benefits of Kraft Singles as a means of addressing calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies in children, The Foundation asserts that the label is not an endorsement of a product, but rather, an acknowledgement of financial support of Kids Eat Right. 

According to the NY Times, The Academy: 
"emphatically denied that the label was an endorsement. “The Kids Eat Right logo on Kraft Singles packaging identifies the brand as a proud supporter of Kids Eat Right,” Mary Beth Whalen, the Academy’s executive director, said in an email statement. “It also serves to drive broader visibility to, a trusted educational resource for consumers."
Furthermore ABC News, pinpointing the "reversal of how most ads work", quoted Academy Spokesman Ryan O'Malley saying: 
"Kraft is putting the Kids Eat Right logo [on its packaging and] saying Kraft is a proud supporter of Kids Eat Right, not vice versa. The academy has never once endorsed any product, brand or service, and we never will."
It is really a stretch for me to understand how this "trusted educational resource for consumers" is justifying such a potentially confusing relationship, to dietitians and public alike. 

UPDATE: The Academy released this Statement


In my experience as a leader within the Academy for over a decade, no issue has been more divisive to the dietetics profession (Academy members and non-members alike), than the Academy's Corporate Sponsorship program. While the Academy staff has attempted to more clearly articulate the Academy's Sponsorship program, I remain perplexed about how the Academy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a 501(c)3 charity, and its two programs (Kids Eat Right and The Future of Food) is governed. 

This spring the governing body of the Academy (The House of Delegates) will conduct its 2015 meeting on May 2 and 3, 2015. On May 2, the delegates will discuss the mega issue "Engaging Members in the Need to Address Malnutrition Across Nutrition and Dietetics Practice Settings." On May 3, the delegates will discuss the Academy's corporate sponsorship program.

The Current  Question they are asking Membership is: 

"How do we evolve our existing sponsorship program to further the mission, vision and goals of the Academy while safeguarding the Academy's reputation and integrity?"
How timely. 

The Meeting Objectives are:
1. Understand the impact of the sponsorship program on the profession, Academy Foundation, and the Academy, 

including DPGs, MIGs and affiliates. 
2. Identify the Academy’s steps in evaluating alignment with a potential sponsor. 
3. Identify elements of the Academy’s corporate sponsorship program that need to be retained or modified. 

 Talk with your delegate(s) about this issue in advance of the Spring 2015 Virtual HOD Meeting (May 2-3, 2015). 
1. Have you, your students, or your affiliate or DPG been impacted by sponsorship? 
2. How do you view corporate sponsorship (identify pros and cons)? 
Your delegate will discuss your feedback during the table dialogue at the Spring 2015 Virtual HOD Meeting.

If there was ever a time for members share their concerns, suggestions or feedback, the time is now. 

If you are a member, please act before Friday March 20th -- (or before you go on Spring Break). 

Take a few minutes to:

1. Read the HOD Fact Sheet on the topic. 

2. Submit comments to BOTH your DPG Delegates and State Affiliate Delegate. Delegate contact information is available here

(For the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition DPG members, your delegate is Meg Bruening and she set up a survey to receive comments here.)

3. Publicly share your thoughts to empower other members to speak up. If you are on Twitter, please RETWEET:

As an RD, I'm appalled with the @eatrightkids label on @kraftsfoods Singles, endorsement or not. #RDchat #cheesyfacts

4. Share this call to action with your colleagues and networks. 

1 comment:

Diana Dyer said...

Dietetic students and interns - this is YOUR issue, this is YOUR association, YOUR future, and NOW is your time to be leading. You also have a delegate to the HOD. PLease submit your comments. Thank you.