News from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation
  • 2020 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo™ (FNCE®) Virtual Event Delivers for Participants Worldwide
    The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to create worldwide challenges across every profession, including how we as nutrition and dietetics professionals work and how we come together for education, networking and professional development.
    As an organization of health professionals, the Academy respects above all else the safety of our members, presenters, exhibitors, guests and employees of the Academy and the convention center and hotels that would house FNCE® attendees.
    Recognizing that the nutrition and dietetics profession is shaped by those who have courage to act and persevere through the most challenging of times, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Board of Directors determined that the 2020 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, scheduled for October 17 to 20 in Indianapolis, Ind., USA, needed to shift to a virtual event experience, to be held on the same dates.
    Shifting FNCE® from face-to-face to virtual was filled with unknowns – from how many people may choose to attend during an era of virtual fatigue, to leveraging how to boost engagement in a virtual space. Relying heavily on the expertise of Academy staff and vendors who quickly adapted their own professional skills to include digital event design and engagement, led to offering a truly immersive, live, virtual event.
    Structuring a deep registration discount across all member and non-member categories opened access to the 2020 FNCE® resulting in more participants than any meeting in the Academy's history with a total attendance of 13,775 from 66 countries and territories. (see Image 1)

    Offering extensive educational programming through more than 100 sessions, 400 research posters, 80 virtual exhibitors and booths posed challenges. Academy staff realigned workflows and deadlines to support the global attendance needs; dedicated staff across departments to support ongoing questions; developed self-directed microlearnings to become acquainted with the platform prior to the live event; and ensured engagement through an interactive help desk for extended live event hours
    Extensive adjustments were also made to meet continuing professional education requirements through engaging dialogue, developing an interactive exhibitor environment and connecting participants in a virtual platform that was different than any other technology used to date in the profession. Evaluation data from the event supports the need to expand how attendees interact – with attendees’ top request being the ability to connect on video chat with each other.

    As the Academy navigated these changes and challenges, we were reminded that the most effective way to adapt to a rapidly changing world is through taking calculated risks and being innovative. FNCE® 2020 provided the Academy an opportunity to demonstrate the adaptability of our global profession by capitalizing on new technology to ensure we remain committed to the ongoing training and development of our collective knowledge and skills.
    Moving into another year of the global pandemic, we remain committed to meeting in-person when it becomes safe for all parties, which means another year of opportunity to gather virtually from October 16-19 for FNCE® 2021.
    The Academy, with all of our global nutrition and dietetics professionals, is excited to innovate, educate and celebrate our accomplishments and challenge each other as we move forward in this “new normal” of a virtual environment.
    Joan Schwaba, MS, RDN, LDN
    Director, Strategic Management

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    120 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
    Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995
    Phone: 312-899-4798