Happy Holidays from the Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics!

President’s Message

Happy December, Members!

For as weird as this year got at times, it’s sure flown by!  Maybe that’s just in my mind – Ha!  I surely hope all of you are staying bundled up, staying safe and had a Happy Thanksgiving.  I know we all have something to be thankful for!

As we close out this Affiliate year, I wanted to make you aware of some things the Board is working on. We are very close to announcing our Diversity & Inclusion Committee.  We had an overwhelming response to our “Call For Volunteers” for the position, that we decided to form a committee instead!  We are super excited about this approach.  The committee can tackle things as a group and accomplish much more.  Look for that announcement in early 2021.

We are still trying to find volunteers to help step in the Region Coordinator rolls.  If you’ll remember, those Regions are Delta, Northeast, Central and Gulf Coast regions. If you want to help but aren’t sure that you could give 100% of your time, consider still reaching out to me, there’s a place for you, I promise!

Our Nominating Committee has had some great conversations with affiliate members about the 2021-2022 Board Positions.  This excites me for our Affiliate.  We are still on the hunt for a President Elect.  If you know someone that has served on the Affiliate board and would be a great candidate, reach out to me and I’ll do the work of giving them a call.

As always, the MS-AND Board is thankful for each one of you and hope you continue to have a Happy Holiday Season!

Heather White

House of Delegates Survey Opportunity

The House of Delegates (HOD) is continuing to discuss the Critical Issue: A Systems Approach to Accelerating Nutrition and Health Equity. The HOD dialogue is currently focusing on Black, Latinx, and Native American communities as these are the groups most affected by COVID-19.

We want to hear from you!

The HOD is interested in learning about your work and volunteer experiences within these populations to accelerate nutrition and health equity. Please take this survey no later than Monday, January 4, 2021, to highlight your efforts and identify others who have demonstrated success through community programs or research projects.

You may choose for your responses to shared with the MS-AND Delegate, and Delegates for DPGs or MIGs you belong to, and HOD task forces members. The results will be used to develop tools and resources to support member efforts to accelerate nutrition and health equity. The successes and challenges of these efforts can help us learn from one another.

School Lunch Week celebrations, search the hashtag #NSLW

Delegate Report

Happy Holidays everyone,

I can’t believe it is already December!

My House of Delegates responsibilities for the past several weeks include:

  • Attended the MS-AND Board of Directors November meeting
  • Joined the Improving Community Health and Understanding the Importance of Nutrition webinar which was promoted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Participated in the 3rd Quarter Policy Leader Townhall with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Legislative and Public Policy Committee
  • Attended the December Happy Half Hour with the House of Delegates “Power of Delegate Support” (PODS) work group

The House of Delegates is working on a critical issue: a systems approach to accelerating nutrition and health equity. Please complete the survey listed in the article above (or found here)  no later than Monday, January 4, 2021

At the 3rd Quarter Policy Leader Townhall, the MS-AND Public Policy Panel learned about the work the Academy is doing to support nutrition related legislation and regulations in the 117th Congress for 2021. We will be reaching out to some of you to share your stories with legislators related to federal nutrition programs and research. We were also informed that the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act has the highest number of co-sponsors that it has ever had. Please remember to complete the Academy Action Alerts. Currently there are Action Alerts for:

  • Support diversity in dietetics and nutrition in allied health professions, and
  • The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2020 (H.R. 6971/S. 4504), which would expand coverage of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) in Medicare Part B beyond diabetes and renal disease and would also authorize nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to refer their patients for MNT.

The Mississippi Legislature convenes on January 5, 2021. We will keep you informed of any nutrition and dietetics related legislation from that session.

As the MS-AND Delegate, I serve as your voice to the Academy. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. My email address is elle_west@yahoo.com.


Lydia West, MPH, RDN, LD, CC, Delegate
Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Take Action Today to Prevent Medicare Payment Cuts for RDNs

Registered dietitian nutritionists are facing a 5 percent cut in their Medicare Part B Payments set to take effect on January 1, 2021. “Evaluation and Management,” or E/M services, are receiving a rate increase and Medicare is required to make payment cuts elsewhere to maintain budget neutrality. The Academy has been working for many months with a large coalition of provider groups to push back against these cuts, including a recent press release in response to Medicare 2021 physician fee schedule final rule.

The bipartisan Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 8702) would stave off these devastating cuts and “hold harmless registered dietitian nutritionists and other Medicare providers by authorizing supplemental payments to restore reduced reimbursement rates back up to their 2020 levels. This solution allows the payment increase for E/M services to go into effect without harming other providers and services at a time when many practices are suffering due to COVID-19.

Take action today (click here) and urge your U.S. Representative to support health care providers by sponsoring H.R. 8702. 

Mississippi Public Health Association Concentrates on Changing Our Futures Together

2020 brought many challenges to all of us. As MS-AND did, the Mississippi Public Health Association (MPHA) found ways to hold its 2020 Annual Conference using a virtual format. MPHA President, and MS-AND member, Catherine Moring coordinated a great program for public health professionals, with many of the sessions focused on nutrition and wellness. Some of those sessions included:

  • The Brain-Gut Connection: How the Microbiome and Gut Integrity Play a Role with Metabolic and Mental Health
  • Breastfeeding Equity During Challenging Times: COVID-19, Uprisings and Natural Disasters
  • A Taste of Motivational Interviewing
  • Connecting Social and Community Action to Health Equity Action

There were also two great research panels to help participants learn more about how to conduct research and what public health related research is taking place in Mississippi. State Health Officer, Thomas Dobbs, and LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor and Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center discussed the work of their institutions and the importance of partnerships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two virtual happy hours took place on Tuesday and Wednesday of the conference. During the first happy hour, participants were encouraged to wear a hat and they were able to connect with others as they talked about the hat they chose. During the second happy hour, MS-AND Delegate, Lydia West, conducted a cooking demo for participants to show easy ways to incorporate more vegetables in their meal and snack choices.

MPHA is planning future educational opportunities for the spring of 2021.

Could a Prescription for Nutrition Counseling and Yoga be Coming to South Mississippi?

MS-AND past president Brittany Simmons recently started her own LLC: Brittany Simmons Whole Health LLC. After being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, Brittany has been on many medications and changed her diet, but it wasn’t until she began practicing yoga that the recurrence of symptoms would decrease. Brittany is now a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 500 with the Yoga Alliance. Mrs. Simmons also has certifications as a Chronic Care Professional® and National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She uses a whole health approach to lifestyle change through judgement free support, encouragement, and easily accessible nutrition education and yoga. Mrs. Simmons teaches live and virtual classes, private lessons and events primarily on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She makes a point to focus on nutrition, physical activity, and mental health and specializes in weight management, diabetes, heart disease, and gut health. She has collaborated with many South MS small businesses to offer package services in a fun modern way. To learn more, visit her visit her websiteShe’s also on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Education, Research, and Service

Mississippi Dietetic Association (now Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) Past President Brent Fountain has been named associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Mississippi State University (MSU). This position will focus on faculty and student affairs. The promotion is part of organizational changes within the Office of Academic Affair at MSU. Provost and Executive Vice President David R. Shaw coordinated these transformations. An objective of these developments is to make the office more service oriented. Dr. Fountain recently worked in the Office of the Provost and Vice President, where he served as interim director of Career Services and associate vice president intern. MS-AND congratulates Dr. Fountain on his new position.

Slate of Candidates: 2021 National Election

The Academy’s and the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s Nominating Committees are pleased to announce the slate of candidates for the 2021 national ballot, chosen from many excellent nominees. Candidates’ biographical information will be available online in late December. Voting takes place February 1 through February 15, 2021. Click here to see the list of candidates and learn more information.

Diversity and Inclusion Leaders Program Applications

Photo from: https://www.eatrightma.org/page/diversity-equity-and-inclusion

In accordance with the Academy’s strategic vision and mission, the Diversity and Inclusion Leaders Program supports Active members from underrepresented groups within the nutrition and dietetics profession. Four leaders are selected to participate in a two-year leadership program and are provided mentorship, leadership training and networking. Applications are due March 1, 2021. Click here for more information and to apply

Board Spotlight

Laura Ewoldt MS, RD, LD

City: Hattiesburg, MS

Workplace: Nutrition Systems

Position with MS-AND Board of Directors: Treasurer

Tell us what your position is responsible for, and what you like most about it:

I handle the MS-AND funds, including working with the President-Elect to create an annual budget and keeping financial records, among other things.

What is your favorite hobby/pastime outside of work?

I love being a mom to my 3 year old, Samuel, and we will welcome another sweet little boy in January. I also enjoy walking and working out!

What is your favorite place to visit in Mississippi and why?

We love to visit the Gulf Coast for all the amazing food, but Hattiesburg is a special place to us because most of our family is here.

Job Posting

South Mississippi Surgical Weight Loss Center Bariatric Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Send Resumes to: akahlmus@SMSurgeons.com

Ocean Springs, MS 39564

The dietitian is responsible for overseeing and providing nutritional support and behavioral modification techniques to patients in a high volume outpatient weight loss center. The patients enrolled in the weight loss program are either preparing for bariatric surgery, have already undergone bariatric surgery, or are non-surgical patients seeking treatment for obesity.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Under minimal supervision, provide science-based nutritional therapy to persons with weight issues by performing initial evaluations, assessing nutritional status, designing appropriate plan of care, and monitoring patient progress
  • Maintain ongoing communication with bariatric surgeons, nurse practitioners, and multidisciplinary professional staff to ensure continuity of patient care.
  • Create and maintain up-to-date bariatric nutritional educational materials.
  • Provide up-to-date nutritional education and guidance to physicians, staff, patients, and families.
  • Provides counsel and close follow-up to patients for behavior modification techniques and lifestyle changes necessary for bariatric surgery.
  • Help coordinate monthly bariatric support group classes.
  • Provide appropriate documentation summarizing the nutrition care plan in the patients electronic health record (EHR).
  • Be proactive in promoting health and wellness to patients, staff, referring providers, and community members.

Preferred Skills/Experience:

  • Strong computer skills with ability to use computer for research and development of presentations • Ability to utilize various computer technologies and social media platforms as source of patient education and patient outreach
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Experienced and comfortable with public speaking
  • Experience as outpatient dietitian preferred

Basic Criteria:

  • Maintains current licensure as a Licensed Dietitian in the State of Mississippi
  • Practices and reflects knowledge of HIPAA
  • Completes all necessary continuing education requirements for position