Mid-Term Report 2016 - Jul-Dec
Chair’s Report (Dave I.)
Dear FA Members:
January 30, 2017
As always, the World Service Board and its various committees have been working hard to serve our fellowship. Below is a brief summary of their work over the past six months. Please be sure to look through this report in its entirety. Here’s a glimpse of some of the enormous efforts of the committee chairs and their respective teams:
- Connection writing sessions continue to be held in various locations across the country resulting in more wonderful and inspiring articles. Please keep 'em coming! For more information on holding a Writing Session in your area, go to: https://connection.foodaddicts.org/writing-sessions/
- The Traditions Review Committee developed a searchable index of 172 traditions issues that have been considered by the committee over the past 14 years as a resource to the FA fellowship.
- The 12th Step Committee’s subcommittee, The Meeting Effectiveness, Safety, & Accessibility team responded to inquiries about physically disabled members, religious language, etc. Their Gratitude in Action (GIA) team produced three newsletters in 2016. Stay tuned for a new focus! The Frontier Support Sub-committee developed a series of 4 support calls to help frontier members, initiated an “E- Communication”, updated and distributed the Frontier Phone List.
- Through the leadership of the PI committee, 4,238 FA members from 16 countries completed 2016 FA Membership Survey with 96% reporting improvements in mental health and over 95% in physical health. Achievements: articles, major national and international broadcast interviews, three published reviews of our FA book, 3000 emails sent out for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week that resulted in 5 FA Information Sessions on college campuses, and much more…
- The Literature committee completed the final edits on the Living Abstinently pamphlet and distribution date is set for Mid-April. They also updated the Meeting Format for presentation to the conference in June, and obtained quotes for an FA Audiobook. Additionally, they were involved in many translation projects, making literature available to our members where English is not the first language.
- The office committee hired a copy editor to make our website content more professional and began an extensive search-engine- optimization project to make our website more visible. They also handled registration for the fellowship convention in October 2016 and prepared the registration page for the June 2017 business convention, including a new online application form for open board positions and online submission of business motions.
- Highlights of the Service Group Support Committee included a bi- monthly conference call to support Local Service Groups, Chapters and Intergroups. Efforts of these service groups included: coordinating health fairs, placing the FA Book in libraries, posting meetings on Craig’s List and other online media outlets, placing racks in pharmacy waiting rooms, and creating a best practices document for FA information sessions. The SGSC is also advocating for the job description of PI reps to be amended to: PI reps are encouraged to join a Local Service Group in your area to better coordinate PI efforts. If there is no Local Service Group in your immediate area consider forming one with other PI reps.
- And, of course, through the leadership of our amazing conference committee, we had another fellowship convention in Florida last October that was a huge success!
Our June business convention is just around the corner. If you can afford the time and have the resources, please join us Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 4, 2017 in Danvers, Massachusetts. Check our website for information on how to register. This is a wonderful opportunity to participate in our growing worldwide fellowship.
Easy does it, everyone. It is an amazing blessing to have this program that provides such stability and strength amidst our changing and challenging lives.
With Gratitude, Dave I.,
Vice Chair Report (Jamie M.)
I participate in the WSB Executive Committee monthly meetings and the WSB monthly meetings and provide input for executive decisions, help to committee chairs (when necessary), support for the WSB Chair in the ongoing WSB meetings and various board issues.
In addition to WSB issues, I offer ongoing support to the chair of the Office Committee in matters regarding the FA office and updates to FA Documents. I sit on the Finance Committee, in which capacity I serve as the representative of the WSB on finance issues.
I chair the Personnel Committee, which helps ensure that employees and independent contractors for the organization are being managed appropriately and constructively. We meet to determine appropriate salaries and policies regarding salary.
I also serve as the chair the Inquiry Response Committee (IRC) and help to communicate with Inquirers regarding various issues or concerns in or about FA, and I assist with fielding and answering inquiries to the FA Office regarding various issues.
This year I coordinated, with a committee of volunteers, Panel Led Topic Discussion Meetings at the FA Fellowship Convention.
WSB Inquiry Response Committee (Jamie M., IRC Chair)
The Inquiry Response Committee (IRC) is responsible for handling inquiries made to the FA World Service Board or to the FA World Service Office.
Responses are made by telephone to inquiries received from both FA members and non-members. An IRC member attempts to reach the inquirer within two weeks of the initial inquiry. The IRC consists of four FA members with at least seven years of abstinence and the WSB secretary who serves as an ex-officio member of the committee.
The committee often submits Traditions related issues to the Traditions Review Committee (TRC) and meeting related issues to the Meeting Effectiveness, Safety and Accessibility Committee (MESA) for review and response. If necessary, the IRC may ask a member of the TRC or the MESA to make the phone call to the inquirer.
Two Samples of recent inquiries and responses:
Inquiry: An FA member’s inquiry, regarding “children” at FA meetings, was referred to the IRC by the FA Office. A long-term member’s 14-year-old daughter had expressed interest in attending a meeting to learn about FA. Since she had not expressed concern about her own eating, as is suggested in the meeting format, some members from the meeting were concerned if it was appropriate to have her attend.
Response: We had a conversation with the inquirer and explained that the suggestion is in the format to offer guidance to meetings to avoid having children who are still developing and growing involve themselves in the program at an age that may be too young for their health and welfare. We suggested that in the case of a 14 year old it would be fine.
Inquiry: A Secretary from an FA meeting contacted the IRC to ask a question about people qualifying and bringing in readings from other spiritual or religious groups to read during their qualification. They wanted to know about our Traditions and to know what our policies are about sharing non- Conference Approved Literature.
Response: The inquirer was contacted and after a fruitful discussion they were referred to material from the FA website which they downloaded and took to their business meeting. We explained the reasons why we use only Conference Approved Literature, the simple spiritual principle of humility, and the need for people to share from their own personal experience rather than read from an outside publication.
WSI COMMITTEE REPORTS
Bylaws Committee (Marti Mc., Chair)
The Intergroups and Chapter were notified about procedures for submitting motions for the 2017 World Service Business Convention. One motion proposal was received by the WSB and is in process for presentation at the upcoming Business Convention. WSB Standing Committee manual updates were requested and are being received by the committees.
Service Group Support Committee (SGSC) (Paul B., Chair)
- The SGSC continues to support Intergroups, Chapters and Local Service Groups with a bi-monthly conference call on the 3rd Sunday every other month from 3:30-5:00 pm EST.
- The SGSC has completed a document titled “Local Service Group Guidelines and Recommendations” which is posted to Foddaddicts.org under Local Service Groups
- The SGSC core committee meets bimonthly to discuss agenda items
- The purpose of this committee is to provide more support for local service groups requesting it. The additional support can be in the form of providing assistance with reach out activities, or other PI related activities. The committee will provide an FA member with an experienced FA member to assist the LSG requesting support
connection Committee (Adrienne P., Chair)
Connection Writing Sessions continue to be held in various locations across the country, which as a result have generated more wonderful and inspiring articles. Please keep 'em coming!
We would love to hear your stories and share your creativity! We’d especially love to have stories from the Frontier, (how you stay abstinent where there is no or little fellowship), Lighten-Up stories, and how you stay abstinent No Matter What. Please send all submissions to: https://connection.foodaddicts.org/submit/
Convention Planning Committee (Ebony F., Chair)
2016 Fellowship Convention
- On October 28-30 2016, food addicts from all over the world gathered together to attend the 5th FA Fellowship Convention. The Fellowship Convention was held in Tampa, Florida and was attended by over 500 people. The Fellowship Convention continues to be an opportunity for fellows from around the world to come together to build community and connection and to strengthen their recovery through shared experience, strength and hope.
- Four countries were represented at the convention including: Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and the United States. Within the US, fellows were from the District of Columbia and 27 states including: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
- Plans are currently underway to determine the date and location of the next Fellowship Convention.
2017 Business Convention
- Planning for the 2017 World Service Business Convention, taking place from June 2-4, 2017 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Danvers, Massachusetts has been underway for the past several months.
- In order to better plan for the event, online convention registration, including meal plan purchase, will close March 31. No meal plans will be available for purchase onsite, but onsite registration will be open (this will include a late fee).
- Registration will open on Friday at approximately 1pm. The convention program will start Friday evening at approximately 7pm with an FA sharing meeting. On Saturday, we will hold the business sessions throughout the morning and afternoon; entertainment will begin after dinner. Sunday morning we will have a sharing meeting, at which we will hear from people with 20 years or more of abstinence (all are welcome to attend!).
- Additional information regarding the tentative convention schedule, a sample food plan, and transportation and lodging information will be posted on our website in the coming weeks and will be emailed to all convention registrants. If you would like to volunteer at the convention or have any questions about the convention, please visit the FA website regularly or contact email@example.com
Public Information Committee (Annie H., Chair)
HEALTH CARE SUBCOMMITTEE:
- 184 of the new Healthcare Brochures have been mailed to meeting contacts
- Also several hundred brochures were handed out at EAI meetings.
- The Health Care Subcommittee is currently working to edit and update the current brochure to include recommendations from the WSB and Literature Committee and to incorporate data from 2016 FA Survey.
FA Information Meeting for Healthcare Professionals
A subcommittee has formed to develop an electronic slide presentation for information sessions for healthcare professionals that can be used in place of the current written format.
- An electronic slide presentation provides information to healthcare professionals in a more professional and up-to-date manner
- Healthcare professionals are accustomed to this presentation format and expect it
- It is a more effective format for presenting data FA is gathering with its surveys
- This format will still require at least two FA members to present their FA experience, with emphasis on their health issues.
- FA members presenting will be required to have five years of abstinence and completion of two AWOL’s
- Traditions Review Committee (TRC) does not see this format as impeding on the Traditions
- Each of the two presenting FA members would present half of the slides as well as tell their personal story, thus not giving the impression of anyone being an FA expert (Tradition 2).
- Staying away from other issues such as obesity as a national and international health problem, opinions on bariatric surgery (other than sharing from their own experience or the statistics of other members coming to FA who have had the surgery), etc. will be key as well (Tradition 10).
- The final slide version will be reviewed by all pertinent FA committees, including the TRC, before being introduced to the fellowship.
MEDIA OUTREACH SUBCOMMITTEE:
- Sent out 372 contacts
- Received 17 personal responses
- Working on adding more volunteers to Media Watch Core Team
- Articles Published
“Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous: the only weight- loss program that works for some”
Patricia Kozicka, National Online Journalist Smart Living Global News
“Food addicts talk turkey as the most binge-inducing holiday looms”
Dallas Morning News, Healthy Living Section 11/20/16
‘’Binge eaters on Cape find a way to cope”
Cape Cod Times 12/11/16
“Our View: Food addiction puts nation’s obesity problem in perspective”
Opinion Piece South Coast Today 12/20/16
“A Three-Dimensional Approach to Food Addiction” San Francisco Medicine
“Thanksgiving holiday a troubled time for food addicts” Jim Morelli
FOX25 TV Boston 11/23/16
“Food Addicts Deal with Challenges of Thanksgiving” Christina Watkins
News14, Charlotte, NC 11/23/16
· Positive Responses (examples)/Follow Up
- ■ Renee McGregor
- Dietitian in UK working in field of sport & eating disorders
- Thanked us for bringing our program to her attention
- Sent her copy of FA Book & literature
■ Karen Thompson
- Thanked us & commented that she loves the 12 step fellowship & would be lost without it
■ Amy Ornelas
- Eating disorder specialist dietitian
- Thanked us for info, commented that it looks like a valuable resource & that she would check us out
■ Christina Fisanick
- The Optimistic Food Addict website
- Thanked us & commented that she was well- acquainted with FA & loves the work we do
■ Phillip Aouad
- Doctor of philosophy (psychology) candidate at the University of Sydney
- Thanked us for the email & asked us if we are similar to OA & if we have addition information
- Will send him copy of FA Book & literature
■ Gary Taubes
- Science writer
- The Case Against sugar, Why we Get Fat
- Thanked us and said that he will look at our website to learn about FA
- Planning on sending him Copy of FA Book & literature
· FA Books and literature sent
- Total of 26 book sent (15 to member in NY)
- Among the recipients include physicians (including Dr. Oz), dietitian, health counselor at a community college, radio station, library journals (FA Book review), bloggers (FA Book review)
- Resulted in 3 FA Book Reviews as noted below
· FA Book reviews
- Midwest Book Review, Dec 2016 issue
- Portada Magazine, Winter Issue
- Mommy Makes Time Blog
· Public Relations Specialist
- Sent FA approved posts to blogs – working with (Blogwatch)
- Contacted local media about Thank-a-Thons and arranged interviews
- Working on pitching New Year’s release to select media outlets and arranging interviews
- Working on pitching 2017 NEDA Week
- Pitched FA Book to library journals and blogs
- Used Cision for pitching Thank-a-Thons and New Year’s releases
PI TOOLS SUBCOMMITTEE:
- Continued coordination of 2016 FA Membership Survey
- Wrote announcements for WSI contacts, intergroup contacts, and Chapter contacts at each meeting.
- Recruited and trained Survey support team to reach meeting contacts at each registered meeting.
- Recruited and trained teams to contact each individual on Frontier Member list with Survey support
- Recruited and trained team to respond to members who needed to take the survey by phone.
- Circulated and collected approximately 50 hard copies of survey.
- Coordinated hands-on survey assistance at WAI and EAI meetings.
- Worked with Survey vendors to provide focus for preliminary data analysis and presentation of data.
- Responded to 17 inquiries from members doing PI work, ranging from accessing Trifolds to placing books in libraries.
- Helped with editing and composition of San Francisco Medicine article.
- Formed “Re-tooling the Tools” subcommittee, beginning to update PI materials online.
- Currently working on revising “So You’re a PI Rep….Now What” as online resource to orient PI reps.
- Helped Media Outreach with FA book distribution, providing customized cover letters
- Helped Health Care Subcommittee update and circulate Health care brochure.
- Gathered testimonials.
- Wrote instructions for PI reps to order and distribute Health Care Brochure
Bi-Annual New Links Overview:
July 1, 2016 – Dec. 31,
(Last) Jan 1, 2016 – June
First time calendar Items placed
Total College Referral Traffic
Number of Colleges
Web Traffic Overview
Total Unique Visitors count to the FA site is up by 54,862 (141.6 %). It is interesting to note that visits by mobile phones went up from 42% to 47% this last half-year, while visits from Desktops, PCs and Tablets went down.
Visits by Mobile Phones
Visits by Desk Tops
Visits by Tablets
Top city using FA website
Visits from Referral Traffic
Visits from Social Network Media
Adwords: Google banner ads
Adwords: Click-throughs to FA
Adwords: Click-Through Rate
Top Countries & Cities: Total Web Traffic (in this order)
US, UK, Australia, Canada, S Africa, Germany, Mexico, Israel, Singapore,
London, San Francisco, Cape Town, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles,
College NEDA Outreach Efforts
Blogwatch and weblinks have been working with colleges nationally and internationally to prepare for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February. We have collected 635 colleges in our database to date, and sent out emails to over 3,000 healthcare, counseling and residential advisors at 100 of the 635 colleges. 41 schools have replied to our emails regarding how FA could be of help to them from sending a book, to wanting to post a weblink to attending health fairs to presentations.
Most recently, there was a "Stress Management" event at Palm Beach State College where 2 FA members staffed a table and gave a short presentation to students about Food addiction and we have events planned at other colleges in January/February.
- An info session for counseling interns at Georgia Gwinnett College
- An info session for Counseling Practicum students and clinical therapists at the University of Michigan
- An info table at St. Thomas College in Houston, TX
WAI PI HIGHLIGHTS:
- Established a contact list of available volunteers for PI work in Greater SF Bay Area, updated monthly at intergroup
- WAI purchased a PI kit for the Texas fellowship
- SF Bay Area health fairs: 6
- Southern California health fairs: 1
- Health Fairs at Senior Centers (Austin, TX): 2
- Health Fair for Medical Professionals (Austin, TX)
- PI Session (Austin, TX)
- PI Session (Houston, TX)
- PI Presentation at Event on Stress Management (Palm Beach State College, CA)
- Diabetes Association Event (Concord, CA)
- Marin County (CA) Employee Health and Wellness Fair
- PI Session at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital for patients in the Obesity Clinic
- Family Health Fair (San Francisco)
- Allen Temple Baptist Church Health Fair (Oakland, CA)
- Compass Family Services Health Fair (San Francisco)
- Southeast Family Health Fair (San Francisco)
- PI outreach meeting with City/County of San Francisco Employee Assistance Program (EAP)—potential to reach 30,000 SF employees
- Ongoing planning for the upcoming PI session with dieticians from Zuckerberg SF General Hospital, for a PI session at the CA Institute of Integral Studies—a private graduate school for therapists (SF), and for college
EAI PI HIGHLIGHTS
- Main efforts are supporting the Frontier in any way they need assistance.
- We are reaching out to medical schools and teaching professionals.
- We have developed a letter to the Clergy for members to give to their churches with the intent to get into their bulletin.
- We are working on a PI Rep overview (the different ways in which the PI Rep can help spread the message).
- We get feedback on PI events and conference. 6, We get updates on trifolds and racks.
Literature Committee (LC) (Jennifer N., Chair)
- Completed the first draft of the Literature Committee procedures manual to include new committee structure and charge.
OPERATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE (OC)
- Facilitated Living Abstinently to be print ready including corresponding with Library of Congress, obtaining ISBN numbers, preparing copyright page and having it professionally edited by a new editor.
- Identified and contracted with a new editor.
- Submitted Living Abstinently pamphlet to the design committee for creation and distribution of publication.
- Hopeful distribution date is Mid-April.
- Discussed distribution of FA book through Amazon with Office Committee
- Arranged for monthly sales reports of all book and audio recording sales to help assist in prioritization of projects.
WRITING AND EDITING SUBCOMMITTEE (WES)
- Completed final edits of Living Abstinently and submitted to the design committee.
- Updating the meeting format to include the new tools as well as performing many other edits and modifications.
- Updated the twenty questions pamphlet and will propose the new changes to the board and potentially the conference for 2017.
- Beginning to edit the pamphlet “There is a Solution”.
- Prioritizing other pamphlets for editing.
TRANSLATION SUBCOMMITTEE (TC)
- Welcomed Lisa A. as our new Translation Committee Chair.
- Initiated discussions and submitted requests for proposals to translation companies to translate “new meeting” kits for our international meetings where English is not the first language.
- Developed a committee consisting of individuals in these frontier communities.
- Determining steps to translate existing audio recordings into Mandarin.
AUDIO RECORDING SUBCOMMITTEE (ARC)
- Facilitated all aspects of the qualifications of four frontier members at the fellowship convention, in the process of reviewing and determining titles for distribution.
- Obtained approval from the board to pursue the creation of an FA audiobook.
- Determined through Intergroup monthly meetings, strong interest in the Audiobook.
- Completed extensive research on the audiobook and obtained three quotes for the completion of the project
- Determining viability of recording panel discussions at Intergroup and WSI conventions, Intergroups, etc.
Office Committee (Margaret H., Chair)
- Hired a copy editor to work on our website content in an effort to make our site more professional
- Began an extensive search-engine-optimization effort to make our website more visible on the internet
- Completed installation of software that makes it possible for changes in a document on the website to be made simultaneously in every location where that document resides
- Handled the online registration process for the October fellowship convention in Florida
- Assisted EAI with its online registration for the November service group weekend
- Wrote summaries of all of the meeting guidelines documents and disseminated them to WSI contacts monthly to familiarize the fellowship with the resources available on our website
- Helped the WSB make the decision to use Office 365 for file sharing starting in 2017
- Set up online registration for the 2017 business convention, an online application form for WSB positions, and a mechanism for the online submission of business motions
- Handled daily phone calls, email inquiries, literature orders, and accounting tasks at our physical office in Massachusetts
Traditions Review Committee (Patty R., Chair)
- Individuals, meetings, local service groups, chapters, intergroups, or the World Service Board may submit Traditions related inquiries by email to the Traditions Review Committee (TRC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Since the April 2016 Annual Report was published, the TRC received twelve new submissions, referred eight others to board committees, and held four conference calls (May, July, September and December) and an in-person meeting at the World Service Convention.
- In addition, the TRC subcommittees continued their work on the following projects:
- Historical Index Subcommittee – continued archival of TRC records
- Communication Subcommittee – published TRC content in GIA newsletter
The following are selected examples of Traditions issues resolved since the Annual Report was published in April:
- 1) Voluntary Group Email List
- 2) Earmarking 7th Tradition Donations
- 3) Member Receiving Texts From Other Member Promoting Outside Event
- 4) FA Meetup Website
- 5) Member Selling Food To Other Members
- 6) Clapping Suggestion A Rule?
- 7) Personal Email Searchable On FA Website
- 8) Posting Full Name or Just FA on Meeting Signs
- 9) FA Facebook Page
- 10) Doctoral Dissertation - Weight Loss Maintenance
- 11) Serenity Prayer in Maori
- 12) Creating a Slide Presentation for Health Care Providers Information Meetings
1) Voluntary Group Email List
Issue: A local fellowship would like to start a private, strictly voluntary email group that exchanges deaths, births, and sickness only for people who have volunteered to be in the group or have given permission for the info to be disclosed. Any other kinds of information would be discouraged.
Response: It seems that this idea of a group email list may infringe in a small way on some traditions. It doesn’t appear that it would affect the anonymity of the group’s members as long as it is open to everyone who wants to be on the list. However, there was some concern that some people may feel left out, especially newcomers who may not know about the email list. This could affect the unity of the group (Tradition 1).
Tradition 5 is put to question as well since our primary purpose is to help the still suffering food addict. The question to ask is, “Is this an effective way to place our energy and our service for the still suffering addict?” It might be more of a social activity, thus taking away focus from our primary purpose. It is also unclear about how and by whom the list would be updated and managed in a way to mitigate the above concerns. This concern may be more of a best practices issue. It seems that if a group of individuals wish to make a group email list among themselves outside of an FA meeting (even if it is all FA members) there would be no problems with the traditions. However, it could be seen as a conflict with the traditions if it were done within a meeting, announced at a meeting, or if an FA logo is placed on the top of the list.
2) Earmarking 7th Tradition Donations
Issue: A member inquired whether earmarking 7th Tradition donations is in the spirit of the 12 Traditions? One member in her meeting donated money specifically to buy 1000 trifolds for the area. Another thought that it may be better to have the generous member put money in the 7th Tradition basket and let the meeting choose whether to buy the trifolds.
Response: The long form of the 7th Tradition states "acceptance of large gifts from any source or contributions carrying any obligations whatever is unwise". The TRC suggests contributions should be made to the 7th Tradition without a specific purpose. The final decision of how funds are used is determined by group conscience.
A 7th Tradition donation allows members to show gratitude and do service by supporting the overall functioning of FA. According to the pamphlet, “Your FA Seventh Tradition,” meetings use 7th Tradition donations to cover expenses (meeting space, literature, public information). Any funds beyond local meeting needs get passed on to a chapter, intergroup or WSI. FA members may donate up to $2,000 in a year directly to WSI.
3) Member Receiving Texts From Other Member Promoting Outside Event
Issue: A member reported receiving a text message from a fellow who is an actor inviting herself and numerous other fellows to come watch her in her film. She does not normally receive calls from the fellow, and was concerned that this kind of advertisement using FA phone numbers is against our Traditions.
Response: After discussion, the TRC determined that there are several concerns regarding texting FA members to attend an outside event (in this case, to view a film in which a member had a role). The inquiry indicates that, in this particular instance, the text recipient hadn't received calls from the "texter" in the past. Therefore, it could be assumed that cell numbers provided on the local FA phone list were used. This could be a potential breach of our principle of anonymity (Tradition 12). We need to ensure that we maintain an environment of trust so that members, particularly newcomers, feel safe. Also, because the film is really an outside event, not associated whatsoever with FA, Tradition 6 may have been violated. Although not explicitly stated, and the intent is not necessarily clear, this method of invitation could be seen as an endorsement or promotion for personal benefit and completely unrelated to the business of FA recovery. FA members often develop long-lasting friendships where it is very common to support one another in outside endeavors.
However, blanket invitations, solicitations and/or advertisements can detract from our primary purpose (Tradition 5).
The TRC recommended that calling members or speaking with them directly (face-to-face) rather than group texting would be the preferred way to ask for support (provided there is no associated monetary benefit).
4) FA Meetup Website
Issue: A member contacted the TRC about an online FA "Meetup" group in which FA members are publically identified in social media. The group currently has over 60 members, a Leadership Team of one, one “Organizer” identified with a generic last name, and uses the FA logo. Members of the Meetup are clearly identified, and many (not all) use their full name and post an identifying photo. The group lists all FA Meetings in the area, which are described using FA-approved language.
Response: The TRC discussed this issue at length and reviewed the Meetup site in question. Although the committee applauds the FA group’s PI efforts for their meetings, this site raises several concerns about the Traditions, specifically 2 (no leaders in FA), 6 (endorsement of outside enterprises), 10 (opinions on outside issues), and 11 (attraction vs. promotion and anonymity in the media).
Tradition 6 cautions us against endorsing outside enterprises, either explicitly or implicitly. Using the FA logo on a wholly separate website clearly implies some level of approval or endorsement. Further, in 2009 the World Service Conference voted to limit use of the logo to registered FA meetings and service groups, and to require permission from the World Service Board for any use on the Internet or in any other public communication (see Continuing Effects Motions Manual on FA website).
Similarly, Tradition 10 may also be relevant in this case, as Meetup groups encompass a wide range of activities and political opinions, including groups devoted to various forms of diet and exercise, on which FA has no opinions.
The TRC recognizes that the Internet in general and social media sites specifically are powerful mechanisms for reaching newcomers. As with all public information efforts, caution should be our guiding principle, as advised by Tradition 11. As distinct from other “advertising” on general news websites or even Craigslist, the linking of full names and faces with an FA activity clearly contravenes this Tradition. Further, the FA Public Information Committee has established a policy guiding member use of social media, including the suggestions against giving the appearance of FA as a “social club.” (The policy is posted on the FA website.)
In support of this FA’s group’s PI attempt, the TRC encourages the group to look for possible ways to address and mitigate these concerns. First, remove the FA logo. Then explore available options for structuring this Meetup group – Can the Meetup be listed as a Private group, with new members having to request to join, at which point they would be given information on going to a meeting. Can the ability of members to post comments also be restricted, to avoid the appearance of this as an online meeting or social club?
After reviewing this, the TRC forwarded the request to the Public Information Committee to provide further guidance to the members involved.
5) Member Selling Food To Other Members
Issue: A member was informed that another member is buying specific foods from another FA member and paying him or her. The food could be argued to be abstinent, or may not be. The member was concerned about the implications of using our FA connections to make money.
Response: The Traditions Committee discussed the member’s concern and had further questions. Were the phone list and the FA
meeting being used as instruments for profiting from this member’s business enterprise, or was this transaction between two members taking place outside of the meeting?
If it is taking place at a meeting, if the product is being promoted and offered to multiple people, or using meeting resources like the phone list, Tradition 5 comes into play. It states, “Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the food addict who still suffers.” This selling could be a distraction for members and confusing to the newcomer.
If the subject of the product came up casually and the member was selling to only one person outside of the meeting, the TRC felt that was an arrangement between two people and would not affect the meeting. It would then be an issue to be discussed with their sponsors. The Traditions are not meant to monitor what two people do between each other where FA as a whole is not being affected.
6) Clapping Suggestion A Rule?
Issue: A member of a meeting inquired whether it is a “suggestion” or a “requirement” that FA members not clap at meetings when a member stands up to go to the front of the room to speak for the first time. When the TRC responded with a reference to Document 4 of the Meeting Guidelines, the member requested further clarification as to whether the meeting could apply group conscience to allow clapping because it “expresses gratitude that an individual had the faith and courage to stay abstinent for 90 days.” The member asked if “WSI approves the suggestion to take this expression of gratitude to a vote.”
Response: The TRC recognizes that the use of the word “request” in Document 4 (“request that people not clap”) may be considered a suggestion and may therefore be voted on by the group conscience. However, we believe that the intention behind the request should be considered. As stated in Document 4, applause is perceived as a reward for an accomplishment and it focuses on the individual, but abstinence is a gift from our Higher Power. We give credit to that power rather than the individual. This protects the individual and allows for the practice of “But for the grade of God, there go I.” So it doesn’t matter if the applause is before or after the member speaks, it still emphasizes the individual (Tradition 12).
Although the TRC recognizes the sense of encouragement and sentiment behind the clapping, there are several concerns to consider. A new member’s perception that their applause was not as enthusiastic as another’s could make them feel “less than” and could potentially discourage a member from returning to a meeting where there is clapping (Tradition 5). Clapping may inadvertently put pressure on a person, and many a fellow has eaten on day 91 due to pressure. The practice of clapping for a person who gets 90 days could easily open the door for clapping for other successes, for example: 6 months, one year, multiples of years, or for sharing.
Where do we draw the line? Furthermore, the meeting would honestly have to consider if this affects other meetings, unity and ultimately FA as a whole (Tradition 4).
7) Personal Email Searchable On FA Website
Issue: A member was concerned because she had started a new business using her personal email. A potential customer “Googled” her email address (common practice as of late) and became concerned because the search revealed several entries about food addiction. The documents she found were reports of various service committees on the FA website. The member is concerned for her anonymity as well as FA’s.
Response: The TRC discussed this issue and, first and foremost, regrets that this has happened. FA has made a conscious decision that no aspect of our website is to be private. Additionally, the FA website now has a more powerful search engine so more documents (such as service committee minutes) are now more widely available.
However, we do not find this to be a Traditions issue, because members who use their personal emails for FA are essentially choosing to break their own anonymity. Rather, this raises an issue of educating both our members and our service groups that any FA document containing contact information may now be more “public”.
To prevent this, many members who are concerned with anonymity create an FA-exclusive email with no identifying features (e.g., firstnameFA@gmail.com). At the service levels, committee chairs (and subcommittee chairs) may use a generic email address at the FA domain (email@example.com). Members can contact their Intergroup or WSO if this applies.
Two suggestions for service groups themselves to consider are 1) adding disclaimers on documents so members are aware of the potential for their information to be discovered; and 2) determine whether members’ phone numbers and personal emails need to be included in documents that are then posted on the FA website.
8) Posting Full Name or Just FA on Meeting Signs
Issue: The Convention Committee inquired whether FA meetings and Conventions should use our full name, "Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous", or "FA" on posted signs.
Response: The TRC recommends local meetings keep it generic, FA, since it is for the newcomer. A newcomer may feel uncomfortable walking into a meeting with a sign that says Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Similarly, a meeting phone list is best simply titled with the day and the title of phone list. We do not need to identify it as a phone list for Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. For meetings one should use “FA”. The 5th Tradition reminds us that our primary purpose is to serve the newcomer. The 11th and12th Tradition reminds us to protect anonymity.
For conventions, welcoming signs could conceivably use the full name, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, where it has attracted public attention and people have attended a convention meeting. So it does have PI value. The groups are so large, and most members are away from their communities.
But the newcomer walking into a meeting in their community would be more comfortable with “FA”.
9) FA Facebook Page
Issue: A member contacted TRC regarding a sponsee stating that she was participating in an “FA Facebook page”. The member shared the FA Social Media Statement with her sponsee and several other members in the meeting. The member was concerned with whether this Facebook activity was in keeping with the Traditions.
Response: The TRC had definite concerns about the use of social media in a way that connects FA with an outside entity (Tradition 6), could involve comments on outside issues (Tradition 10), and reveals individual members’ identity to the public (Tradition 11). We believe that the FA social media statement found on the FA website presents a sufficient explanation of the principles and the clear suggestion: FA fellows should refrain from using FA in their profile.
On further discussion with the inquirer, we agreed that many members of FA are not aware of the Social Media statement and it would be helpful to reiterate this through the GIA, intergroup and chapter reports, and the Meeting Health service position. It was also suggested that we share this information with the PI and 12th Step committees, suggesting that they reiterate the point during their periodic conference calls.
10) Doctoral Dissertation - Weight Loss Maintenance
Issue: An FA member wrote to the TRC in regards to research they are conducting for their doctoral degree and in particular their dissertation topic. The member is looking for individuals who have successfully lost weight and kept it off for a minimum of a year to gain evidence of the motivation that may lead to successful weight loss maintenance. The member would like to survey a target population of individuals who have made lifestyle changes in the area of weight loss/weight loss maintenance to support a specific theory of motivation they have studied. The member asked whether FA World Service has ever allowed other researchers to survey their fellows either worldwide or locally. The TRC inferred that the member was looking for TRC or WSB authorization to allow such a survey.
Response: The TRC and WSB reviewed the inquiry; many commented that the theory that the researcher is focusing on seems to directly conflict with the principles of the FA program and the 12- steps, so FA members would likely be an inappropriate sample, notwithstanding that they have the requisite weight loss and maintenance requirements.
That being said, the TRC provided the following comments regarding a number of potential conflicts with FA Tradition. Tradition 11 (attraction rather than promotion; maintenance of personal anonymity at level of press) was highlighted due to the potential that this study could be published. A potential positive side effect of this publishing would be another means to “get the word out” about FA and perhaps help the still suffering food addict by reaching the professional community in a new manner that would not be considered “promotion.”
Tradition 12 (anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions; placing principles before personalities) was also noted, as it is vital that personal anonymity be respected for the protection of FA, as no individual speaks for FA, only for himself or herself.
The primary concern raised is how the member finds their subjects. The TRC and WSB were unanimous in the view that the principles of FA would prohibit the organization from assisting the member in finding a list of potential research subjects. FA does not maintain lists of members available to outside professionals. It was also made clear that it would not be appropriate for an FA meeting phone/email list, a convention phone list or any of the 12th Step committee phone lists to be used for this purpose.
It was noted that making an announcement requesting subjects for a study would not be appropriate at an FA meeting since the study is not part of FA and therefore not an FA announcement. Similarly, handing out any flyers or literature at a meeting would also be in direct conflict with the FA Meeting Requirements & Standards. These practices might also adversely impact any newcomers who might think that their anonymity in attending the meeting is threatened.
That said, if the researcher/FA member decided to personally approach individual members in their local area, it would be a personal decision if those FA members chose to participate in the study. If so, they would be speaking for themselves and not for FA. It was suggested that it may be preferred to approach more experienced (rather than new) FA members, discreetly, after a meeting as to not impact newcomers (Tradition 5) who may be put off by a request to be studied.
Should FA members proceed they would be doing so as individuals, using their first name only or a pseudonym and not representatives of FA. It would be vital that the study respect the principle set out in Tradition 6, that FA not endorse or lend the FA name to any outside enterprise, and Tradition 10, that FA has no opinion on outside issues.
As an additional confirmatory measure, the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) General Service Office (GSO) was consulted and their position on this type of request was sought. AA has a group in their organizational structure called “Cooperation with the Professional Community” (CPC) which has a mandate to respond and cooperate with outside professionals while maintaining the principles of the AA program including AA’s 12 Traditions. CPC explained that AA, as an organization, does not participate in research, education or therapy and will not agree to carry the message of any other organization.
They will, however, educate and communicate with outside organizations and provide support and education in order that these organizations may carry the AA message. The CPC representative stated that AA members could participate in such a study but the AA GSO would not be involved. Members would be expected to make it clear that AA must remain anonymous at the public level and members could not use their full names. Should the study desire to use any AA literature, permission must be sought as all AA literature is subject to copyright laws.
11) Serenity Prayer in Maori
Issue: A group member from a New Zealand meeting shared that their group recently voted to say the Serenity Prayer in Maori at the end of the meeting. Maori is a minority population and there is a social/political movement for more rights and recognition for members of that group. Including this has caused conflict in their fellowship. The fellow would like to know if this practice is in conflict with meeting guidelines or Traditions, specifically whether FA should be seen as aligning with this cause even though, as individuals all of our members do support the promotion of the Maori language.
Response: The TRC feels this practice is in conflict with two traditions, Tradition 1 (unity) and Tradition 10 (outside issue). Although the intent was to make the meeting welcoming to Maori communities, the language is only spoken by 10% of the population. The vote to say the Serenity Prayer in Maori was tied (2-2) with the secretary casting the deciding vote, dividing the fellowship. Therefore, the decision was in conflict with Tradition 1, which states personal recovery depends on FA unity.
Since the promotion of the Maori language is a social and political movement in the community, it is in conflict with Tradition 10, which states that FA has no opinion on outside issues.
Since the format is in English, the TRC suggests fellows recite the Serenity Prayer solely in English. The group could request a translation of the whole format if there was a demand.
12) Creating a Slide Presentation for Health Care Providers Information Meetings
Issue: A subcommittee of the PI Committee submitted a proposal to develop a new format for an electronic slide presentation of an FA Information meeting to Health Care Professionals in place of a written format. This is a presentation method HCPs are more accustomed to, and is an effective format for presenting the data FA is gathering with its surveys. The presentation format will still require at least two FA members presenting their experience before and after FA with emphasis on their health issues. A detailed proposal was reviewed by the TRC, which provided suggestions to the PI Committee to ensure that the presentation stays within the Traditions.
Response: The TRC did not see this as impeding on the Traditions, as the electronic slide presentation is simply intended to provide information in a more professional and up-to-date manner when presenting to groups of HCPs. The committee agrees that FA members presenting should have at least 5 years of abstinence and completed at least 2 AWOLs. Perhaps each of the two presenting FA members would present half of the slides as well as tell their personal story, thus not giving the impression of anyone being an FA expert (Tradition 2). Staying away from other issues such as obesity as a national and international health problem, opinions on bariatric surgery (other than sharing from their own experience or the statistics of other members coming to FA who have had the surgery), etc. will be key as well (Tradition 10). The final slide version should be reviewed by all pertinent FA committees, including Traditions, before being introduced to the fellowship.
Twelfth Step Committee (Paula K., Chair)
Gratitude in Action
- The Gratitude in Action (GIA) team produced three newsletters in 2016.
- A new Chair has taken over the committee for 2017.
- This year's focus includes going back to the “roots” of GIA:
- utilizing a newsletter format
- a focus on "how-to" service activities
- more quotes from the AA book
- more support for members on the frontier
The Frontier Support Sub-committee has:
- Developed a series of 4 support calls intended to help frontier members build fellowships in their areas. (Calls are scheduled for January 29, March, May, and July 2017 – more information is available on the FA website under the “Frontier” tab.
- Initiated a regularly distributed “E-Communication” piece for members in the Frontier.
- Restructured the Frontier Support sub-committee, in order to better serve the Frontier. This included adding new positions and eliminating/modifying redundant work.
- Recruited and trained several subcommittee members (~80% of the team) to fill new and existing roles. Ongoing tasks are now being carried out seamlessly and strongly.
- The Frontier Phone List was updated and distributed monthly to all Frontier members on the list, as well as WSI contacts. WSI contacts were asked to maintain current copies at their meeting’s literature tables.
- The Frontier Sponsor List was updated and distributed quarterly via email to WSI contacts for placement on meeting literature tables. It was also sent to over 370 people from July 01, 2015 to December 31, 2015 – an approximately 150% increase over the previous term. Sign- ups for this list were encouraged via intergroup and chapter meetings.
(Meeting Effectiveness, Safety & Accessibility)
The Meeting Effectiveness, Safety, & Accessibility team is currently working on several different issues:
- Clarifying and shaping the Meeting Health Person service position.
- Determining ways to easily communicate with, and keep each Meeting Health Person informed
- Clarifying the term “newcomer” to include anyone who might be visiting or new to a given meeting.
- Offering suggestions to help meetings become sensitive to the needs of physically disabled members. Some first-time attendees may be unable to stand in order to be welcomed by the group. Others may have difficulty standing up at the front of the room for reading or sharing.
- Responding effectively to inquiries from members. A member recently asked for suggestions about how to deal with the consistent use of religious language at her meeting.