College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Nutrition & Food Science

MAND Annual State Legislative Interactive Workshop

Dr. Margaret Udahogora, Ph.D. UMD DPD Director, her assistant and UMD DI interns with Senator’ Joanne C. Benson’s assistant join for the Apple Crunch Challenge
Image Credit: 
Phyllis McShane, MS, RD, LN, UMD Internship Program Director

Maryland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MAND) holds an Annual State Legislative Interactive Workshop (SLIW). On February 21, 2018 MAND dietitians, interns and dietetic students advocated for important nutrition bills to their state legislators. The SLIW was a unique and valuable experience for recent UMD Dietetic graduates and current dietetic students to learn and voice nutrition concerns to legislators. The appointments provided a networking opportunity and insight on the importance of public policy and its impact on the dietetic profession. 

                      Gwyneth Bradshaw and Avital Schwartz at the event 

Prior to the appointments, Maryland State Senator Brian J. Feldman (15th Legislative District) provided valuable training on how to approach legislators. From UMD, Dr. Margaret Udahogora and Ms. Phyllis McShane were the team leaders for the PG County districts and Arnetta Fletcher, NFSC Dietetic Program graduate lead the team for Frederick, Carroll, Harford, and Cecil counties.  In PG County the team met with representatives for House of Delegates Ms. Carolyn Howard (24), Ms. Josalyn Pena-Melnyk (21), Mr. Erek Barron (24), and State Senators Joanne Benson, Jim Rosapepe, and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam.


The nutrition bills that were discussed and supported by MAND include:


  • HB0086/SB0656 – Health Insurance Coverage for Elevated or Impaired Blood Glucose Levels and Prediabetes Treatment

Currently, insurance covers individuals with Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes. This bill supports insurance coverage for individuals that fall into the “Prediabetes” category. Without lifestyle changes, people with prediabetes have a significant risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes. This bill will provide individuals with preventative care to prevent the development of diabetes.

  • HB0490/SB0163 – Public Health – Community Health Workers – Advisory Committee and Certification

Community Health Workers (CHW) play a vital role in bridging the gap between medical doctors and people in the community. A task force found that these CHWs often have varying degrees of education with differing backgrounds and there is need for clear training expectations. Currently, there are no Registered Dietitians (RD) on this committee. This bills supports adding an RD to the committee to ensure that nutrition concerns and problems can be properly addressed.

  • HB0806 – Education – Summer Meals Expansion Grant Pilot Program

Many families rely on school lunch programs throughout the school year to ensure their children have access to meals. When school ends for the summer, these children still require nutrition support. This bills will further expand the Summer Meals program for children who are food insecure.

  • HB1113 – Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Services for Children with Prader-Willi Syndrome

Prader-Willi Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that occurs in 1 out of every 15,000 births. With this disorder, children have impaired cognition, low IQs, insatiable hunger leading to obesity, and a strong likelihood of developing other chronic diseases. These children require lifelong support, and currently this responsibility falls on families. This bill will help these people gain access to family trainings, treatment services, and various specialized support services.


The University of Maryland Dietetic Program had a special role in organizing apple donations from local grocery stores for the Apple Crunch Challenge campaign. The campaign involved a photo-op with legislators and Licensed Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists, interns and students after each appointment. The bite into the apple symbolized a promise to make the good health of Maryland citizens a high priority. Ashley Lewis, Faculty Assistant in the Dietetic Program spearheaded the apple campaign by organizing a team of dietetic students to assist with securing apple donations. Dietetic student volunteers included Ashley Balderson, Rivka Katz, and Matthew Gardner.

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