Feature Article
Project Update on the Food Sustainability Initiative
  • Web-based Sustainable Food Systems Toolkit in Progress!
    The ICDA Food Sustainability Initiative is in phase two of the project, which focusses on building an online toolkit that supports dietitian-nutritionists to integrate sustainability into their practice and measuring our collective contributions to a more sustainable world.
    For readers new to this project, a quick review of the back-story: In phase one, we ran a global conversation about Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) with 72 dietitian-nutritionists from 30 countries. We created a collective vision, learned about barriers to integrating SFS into practice, and made recommendations to ICDA for strengthening the organizational role in supporting SFS. The high-level recommendations were to:
    i. Provide strong leadership for sustainable food systems in practice
    ii. Facilitate learning and collaboration among ICDA members
    iii. Identify and engage global partners in this work
    These are captured in more detail in the final report of April, 2019.
    In Phase two we are working to support two of these recommendations. To support item i., Provide strong leadership for sustainable food systems in practice, we are measuring the profession’s current contributions to SFS, allowing us to track our progress over time. We developed methods and collected members’ input into indicators in phase one. Now we are collecting data. We hope the work will be ready for sharing in October, 2020. 
    Two barriers identified in phase one were:
     1) a professional culture that does not always support inclusion of sustainability in practice, and
     2) the lack of a common vision and language to orient actions. These barriers led to the recommendation for item ii. Facilitate learning and collaboration among ICDA members. To support this, we are developing a toolkit. We have hired two team members, Haley Jenkins (dietetic trainee) and Chaiti Seth (sustainability educator, sustainable food systems and community development specialist) and gathered a group of 18 advisors from 14 different countries to inform the development of a web-based SFS Toolkit. The toolkit is well underway and the beta-version will be ready for testing in September, 2020! At that time, we will be testing it with dietitians and improving it before a release of the final tool.
    Our vision for the toolkit is that: Dietitians bring a deep understanding of sustainable food systems into their practice. Access to a range of practical, evidence-based and context-specific tools and resources that will support all dietitians in making positive contributions to sustainability. Dietitians play key roles in creating healthy communities and accelerating a shift towards sustainable food systems.
    Our Objectives are to: 
    • Provide accessible, relevant and transferable information on the interconnections of sustainable food systems and human health
    • Provide practical, evidence-based tools for incorporating sustainability into dietetic practice in a diversity of roles and cultural contexts
    • Facilitate peer-learning and collaboration to deepen understanding and support incorporation of sustainability into dietetic practice
    The toolkit curates a suite of tools to facilitate knowledge and skill development for SFS in practice, and facilitates peer-to-peer collaboration and learning. It includes a sustainability self-assessment for dietitians, a database of existing, relevant resources and examples, case studies, practice briefs, practice tools, community discussion forums, and a professional development section.  We have done our best, with support from our Advisors, to find and include resources that are relevant to a diversity of roles, practice areas, geographic and cultural regions.
    We are excited to share this beta version with dietitians in September or the nearest future! 
    Liesel Carlsson & Edith Callaghan