Mid-Term Report 2018 - Jul-Dec
Chair’s Report (Bonnie H.)
January 16, 2019
Dear FA Members,
Last fall I sent a letter out to the fellowship with a very brief description of what the World Service Board and its Committees were working on. This report will give you more detailed information about what each committee has accomplished or are in the process of accomplishing since the 2018 Business Convention. Please take the time to read this report as it includes all the information you will need to know about up and coming events in the fellowship.
If anyone is interested in doing any kind of service like this, you don’t have to start at the World Service level. You can begin by attending your local business meetings. Then there are the local area service groups, and if you are fortunate enough to be near a chapter or intergroup, there is always service to be done at those levels also.
Personally, I have always liked getting to my meetings early and setting up chairs. This has always been one of my favorite forms of service because you get to meet the newcomer and hear their struggle — the best way possible to get out of yourself!
Thank you all for reading this summary at your meetings, and please try to think of a way you can help a sick and suffering food addict.
THAT is what this is all about!! In Service,
World Service Chair
Vice-Chair Report (Ann H.)
My work this fall has centered around organizing a review of Meeting Guidelines Document 4: Sample FA Meeting Format. The fellowship was invited to send suggestions to me in my role as chair of the Meeting Format Ad Hoc Committee of the board. We evaluated approximately 50 suggestions. A first draft will be reviewed by the board in January. We anticipate next steps will follow the format that has been used for other FA literature, with a draft made available to the fellowship early this year, and then, based on the feedback received through several open conference calls, a revised draft presented for approval to the World Service Conference body at the 2019 World Service Business 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.
Sample of two recent inquiries and responses:
An FA member wanted to know what traditions would be broken if a qualifier uses props as part of their qualifications? The examples were photos of objects that represented “powerlessness" to the qualifier, placards, large books, scrolls listing sugar ingredients, “fat clothing” and note cards.
We talked about the fact that some meetings, who have chronic prop usage, have had the meeting secretary/speaker seeker mention it to the speaker when they invite them to qualify. They would ask the speaker to not bring props, only a few of their photos, and suggest to them that they speak from their heart. We explained that as we all progressed in our recovery and humility we have found it easy to let the go of the urge to bring props and large photo albums and to ask God for help to share our story. Time and the 12 Steps heal so many of our character defects. We suggested that they could talk to the person qualifying and explain that we are there to share our story -- and that it’s not about entertaining or performing for an audience. It’s to simply share one’s own experience, which makes it easier for others to identify.
We received an inquiry from a fellow who was very upset to learn, after her share, that a member of the meeting had somehow managed to record and transcribe her qualification, word for word on her phone. She also felt that it wasn’t the first time that this happened.
In our discussion with the inquirer, we assured her that any form of recording of her qualification at a meeting was not allowed. It was explained that the meeting needs to be abiding by our Tradition’s regarding Anonymity. We counseled her on dealing with her feelings around her anonymity and safety. We suggested ways in which she might handle a discussion with the person who made the recording and with the meeting Secretary. It was suggested that the Secretary should bring the issue up at the Business Meeting so that all of the meeting's members would be aware of the need to maintain individual’s privacy and anonymity. They could explain the principles of Anonymity so that all would feel free to share from their hearts in front of the room to other FA members.
WSI COMMITTEE REPORTS
Bylaws Committee (Norma Jean P, Chair)
Intergroups and Chapters have been sent notices and procedures, with deadline dates, for the submission of motions for the 2019 World Service Business Convention (WSBC). The motion submission form is posted on the website.
At this time one motion, generated by the Bylaws Committee, has been approved by the Board Motions Review Committee (BMRC) for the 2019 WSBC. The BMRC is in process of reviewing two additional motions generated by the Bylaws Committee.
In March, World Service Conference (WSC) members will receive an email of all proposed motions. WSC members are entitled to vote on any motions proposed by a chapter or intergroup. The vote will determine if the motion should be placed on the agenda for the WSBC.
If your meeting has not yet elected a WSC member, you are encouraged to do so. In addition to registering for the convention, WSC members must register as a World Service Conference member by March 2, 2019.
Office Committee (Jan B., Chair)
- Coordinated the online registration and assisted the Convention Planning Committee with both the 2018 Business and Fellowship Conventions.
- Began the process of re-registering all FA meetings and conducting a census in accordance to the 2012 World Service Conference motion that requires re-registration of all FA meetings every three years.
- Added the new Health Care brochure to the literature that is available for sale on the FA website.
- Added new “For the Health Care Professional” page to the Media/Professionals tab on the FA website.
- Made it possible for meetings and individuals to make donations to WAI through the FA website using a debit, credit card, or PayPal account.
- In the process of improving the way the FA website looks on cell phones so that fields are easier to fill out and important information fits within the width of the screen.
- Began the process of enhancing the FA website and simplifying the online ordering of FA materials.
- Evaluating and testing ways to improve online communication with people searching for a solution to food addiction.
- Coordinated all communication to FA members from the World Service Board and their committees.
- Continued to assist the newcomer, WSB, Intergroups, Chapters and FA members as requested.
Service Group Support Committee (SGSC) (Paul B., Chair)
The SGSC (Service Group Support Committee) continues to support Intergroups, Chapters and Local Service Groups with a bimonthly conference call. Guest speakers are available to discuss pertinent FA issues. The January 20, 2019 call will feature a demonstration on the Health Care Slide Show on Go To Meeting Conference call schedule at 3:30-5pm Eastern Standard Time: 1/20/19, 3/17/19, 4/21/19, 7/21/19, 9/15/19, 11/17/19 all are welcome.
The SGSC maintains a document titled “Local Service Group Guidelines and Recommendations.” It is posted under the "Service Group Support" section of the FA website. The SGSC has a sub committee chair of the Guidelines and Recommendations Committee that discusses suggestions on updates to the document periodically.
The SGSC core committee consists of the chairs of EAI SGSC and WAI SGSC, the chair of the Forum Planning Committee the chair of the LSG Guidelines and Recommendations Committee and the SGSC Chair. The core committee meets bi-monthly to discuss agenda items, policy and goals and discusses any changes to the guideline and recommendations.
The SGSC brought back the Forum to the Friday of the 2018 Business Convention and is planning the 2019 Forum at the Friday of the 2019 Business Convention. The Forum Planning Committee will be having its first conference call in January 2019.
Convention Planning Committee (Vanessa C., Chair)
- Planning is underway for the 2019 World Service Business Convention, taking place from May 31-June 2, 2019 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Danvers, MA
- Online Convention registration, including meal plan purchases, will close on March 30 at midnight ET. No meal plans will be available for purchase on-site, but on-site registration will still be available (this will include a late fee)
- Registration at the Convention will open on Friday at 9:00am, followed by an FA meeting from 10:00-11:30am, and then The Forum from 1:00- 5:00pm
- The Forum gives us the opportunity to share what has worked in reaching the newcomer, discuss how to start and maintain healthy meetings, and reinforce how to maintain our own recovery from food addiction. Please keep the Friday, June 1st Forum start time in mind when you plan your travel to the Business Convention
- Additional information is available on the Business Convention page of the FA website, including all deadlines, a sample food plan, a link to register for your hotel room, details about open WSI Board member positions, service opportunities, and an online ride and lodging sharing sign-up sheet
- If you have any questions about the Convention, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Due to the overwhelmingly positive response we received to the 2018 Fellowship Convention at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL, we are pleased to announce that we will be heading back there next year. Our next Fellowship Convention will take place from Friday, October 25 through Sunday, October 27, 2019 at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL. The 2019 Fellowship Convention fees, activities, and overall experience will be very similar to 2018. Registration will open in June 2019
- Please note that holding a 2019 Fellowship Convention does not replace the Fellowship Convention we are planning for the western US in 2021. The 2021 Fellowship Convention will still take place as initially announced. The Fellowship Convention weekend we're adding for 2019 will just be an additional opportunity for our fellowship to come together. We're excited to share more details as the date gets closer
- The 2018 Fellowship Convention was a joyful, relaxed, recovery-filled, meaningful weekend. 430 FA members and their guests attended. Attendees came from 32 US states (the highest number were from Florida, Georgia, and California) and five countries other than the US. One third of the attendees were at an FA convention for the very first time
- Sharing topics included the following: History of FA, A Grateful Heart Doesn’t Eat, FA First the Rest Will Follow, Life on Life’s Terms, No Matter What, Every Tool Every Day, and Promises of the Program
- Activity highlights included the following: connection workshops, speaker recording sessions, karaoke, dance and photo booths, wildly popular yoga and Latin Fusion Fitness Dance taught by FA members, and outdoor activities such as water volleyball, walk and talks, and meet and greets
Public Information Committee (Annie H., Chair)
- Completed an FA press release and article which FA members can use in their work with media outlets
- MediaWatch made 145 contacts globally to introduce FA to media and other professionals and received 8 personal responses, including this one from a member of the Royal Society of Medicine:
- “Thank you so much for your email. I see so many patients with food addiction issues and these is so little support in the UK. I will certainly let patients know about your organisation where appropriate.”
- Two FA members with long-term abstinence participated in an online radio interview which was also made available on YouTube
- Health Care Provider slide show was presented to two healthcare audiences in San Francisco and Southeast Florida. We provided orientation, review and coaching for the presenters
- Currently working to create narration notes that will accompany the Healthcare Professionals slide show, allowing more members to effectively deliver the presentation
- Currently working on a new Health Care Professional web page for the FA website
- Finalized procedure for the distribution, use and sale of the Healthcare Brochure for PI Reps, and WSI Contacts
- Updated Health Care Provider slides to reflect “deeper dig” into survey data.
- Provided continued project management, writing and organizational support to the other PI subcommittees to enable completion of the new FA press release and the finalization of communications and distribution plan for the new Healthcare brochure
PI Weblinks and Digital Outreach:
Statistical Highlights for Weblinks Committee
July - Dec 2018
New College Website Links
New Non-College Website Links
New Blog Posts (FA BlogWatch)
FA website visits from worldwide colleges
FA website visits from all other websites
FA AdWords Campaign:
July - Dec 2018
Total clicks to the FA Website originating from
Total impressions (when Adwords causes FA to
come up in a Google search)
Click-Through Rate (% of people who click through
from AdWords to see the FA website)
July - Dec 2018
92 comments attempted
55 comments were accepted and appear online
Totals since inception of Blogwatch (since Sept 2011)
948 comments attempted
477 were accepted and appear on-line
Other Digital Outreach Highlights:
- We continued our annual outreach to almost 1,000 college professionals worldwide, focusing US college outreach on preparations for February’s National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week. This year we revised our college letter, got a new email address for colleges responses: email@example.com, and automated the email outreach process to get our emails out earlier
- A good part of the year was spent putting together a 2018/19 strategic plan and priorities list for both the Weblinks Committee and for the FA Website.
- The Weblinks Committee is working with the Digital Strategies Committee to optimize our website.
EAI PI Committee:
- Our early call prior to the start of the monthly PI Committee has been very successful. It is a way for EAI PI reps not in the Boston area to call in and get guidance on their PI outreach efforts. The early call begins 30 minutes prior to the regular committee meeting and it regularly has 18-20 PI reps dialing in.
- We are in the early stages of updating the EAI PI Committee page on the FA Website. We have begun talking about how best to use this space to help EAI PI Reps with their PI outreach with documents, best practices and ideas.
- Service Group Support Committee became a subcommittee of the PI Committee in July. The chair of the subcommittee is currently working on the best way to help EAI Service Support Groups grow and do service.
- Outreach to local women’s/mom’s support groups at religious institutions: We cross-referenced Massachusetts religious institutions with towns that have an FA meeting and called to offer an FA outreach at a Women’s or Mom’s support group meeting. After 50 calls we had one very interested institution in Western Mass. Currently the EAI PI Committee is working with local Western Mass fellows to organize a local outreach at this institution.
WAI PI Committee:
- Health fairs: 8
- Public Information Sessions: 8
- The Community Outreach subcommittee continues to collaborate with the WAI SGSC committee in two major ways: 1) to co-host conference calls with fellows on the Pacific Rim to help them build their capacity to do PI work locally and 2) to spread the word of FA in the Western Region by placing FA books, posting local meeting announcements, sending PSA’s to local media, organizing PI sessions, etc.
Maine Chapter PI Committee:
- UNE (University of New England, Health Fair
- Cancer Survivors Day Health Fair in Augusta
- Presented the Health Care Provider slide show to the University of New England's Culinary Medicine Club, Biddeford ME
- Health Fair at the Kittery Naval Shipyard, Kittery ME
Twelfth Step Committee (Paula K., Chair)
The 12th Step Committee consists of four subcommittees. Working together, we are able to accomplish much service. Here is what members have been working on since June:
Gratitude in Action (GIA) Subcommittee
GIA produced two newsletters, continuing to spotlight FA meeting service positions with the goal of encouraging members to serve in these positions. Edition three highlighted the Treasurer position, and edition four, the WSI Contact position.
The Frontier subcommittee launched the Digital Newcomer Packet, designed to give prospective FA members without FA meetings access to information they would find at a meeting. It includes a phone list of greeters in different countries, MP3s of speakers, and FA literature. The digital newcomer packet can be found here: https://www.foodaddicts.org/digital-newcomer-packet.
The Frontier subcommittee also continued to provide resource calls and phone lists for frontier members, and those who hope to spread the FA solution beyond areas with meetings. Information about these calls can be found here: https://www.foodaddicts.org/members/living-on-the-frontier.
Meeting Effectiveness Support and Assistance (MESA) Subcommittee
MESA has concentrated on assisting meetings to become more effective in the following areas: helping fellows gain and maintain abstinence, and carrying the message of FA recovery. A Meeting Effectiveness Assessment was developed to assist meetings in these efforts, and is available by request. The Helpline Team (email firstname.lastname@example.org) has responded to thirteen inquiries from fellows with meeting concerns, including three regarding accessibility for persons with disabilities. Presently, MESA is working on written guidance for other specific concerns.
Conference Member Subcommittee
The goal of this newly formed subcommittee is to increase the attendance at the FA Business Convention of qualified members whose meetings have no representation. The committee will look for ways to reach out to FA members who may not be aware of the importance of this service opportunity. This includes members with at least five years of back-to-back abstinence, who have completed at least one AWOL, and who regularly attend an FA meeting that does not routinely elect a conference member to attend the FA Business Convention.
Literature Committee (Jennifer N., Chair)
- Established a Feedback Subcommittee and Communication Subcommittee to better gather feedback and determine best methods of communicating with the fellowship about literature needs and proposals.
- Provided a draft of Food Addiction and the FA Solution to the fellowship by posting it on the FA website. Provided the fellowship with direction on how to provide feedback. Feedback was gathered through email and three different conference calls. An updated draft with incorporated feedback will be provided at the end of January for a final round of feedback which will be solicited via email and one additional conference call. The final WSB approved draft will be posted 30 days prior to the World Service Business Convention, where it shall be presented as a motion for adoption by the World Service Conference.
- Received the final completed version of the FA Audiobook from our vendor and have begun conversations with a small FA sub-committee to determine the best method for distribution and hosting of the final product.
- Recorded four new qualifications at the Fellowship Convention and determining speakers for the World Service Business Convention
- Continue to determine the translation needs of our fellowship and are working with local translators to most efficiently produce material.
connection Committee ( Dom K, Chair)
The connection committee has been hard at work continuing to create a magazine for FA fellows all over the world to enjoy! We switched up some service positions after the business convention and have a great team working on editing, article selection, art selection, writing coaching, and more.
Currently, we are looking at ways to make the digital subscription more accessible and easier to manage. This has required research and testing to see the best way to enable members to have the connection right at their fingertips, but we're hoping to finally roll out a solution in the coming months. We're also working on revamping the blog on the connection website, and we hope that serves as an exciting extension to our beloved magazine!
Our newest section "Frontier Focus" is shining a light on members with experience living on the Frontier. Our hope is to be able share the experience, strength, and hope of these members with food addicts in areas without meetings.
Our January/February 2019 dual issue features some great stories, including one from an incarcerated FA member who says the connection magazine is his lifeline to FA recovery. It's exciting to be able to share writing from members from all walks of life!
Lastly, as always, we encourage members to do service by writing and submitting a story, and/or creating artwork, for the connection! Have you always wanted to write but just aren't sure where to start? Our writing coaches are here to help you. The team is comprised of extremely talented writers who can help guide you as you put pen to paper and finally get to writing your story.
Email email@example.com for help!
For any questions about connection, or if you're interested in getting involved in our committee, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traditions Review Committee (Patty R., Chair)
The TRC’s mandate is to consider how the Twelve Traditions guide us on various issues raised by FA members or groups. Inquiries are submitted to email@example.com, the committee meets to discuss these issues every other month, then shares their thoughts with the inquirer and with the fellowship (when appropriate) through various WSI reports and the GIA. The TRC is not a governing or policing body, nor does it get involved in resolving the issue; rather, it enables the person(s) to deal with the situation or the other person(s) involved.
From July – December, the TRC received 24 inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of those, 8 were responded to by the Chair, 6 were referred to another FA committee, and 10 were discussed and responded to by the full TRC as follows. Questions about any of these may be directed to email@example.com.
Responded by Chair using historical index –
- Membership in Urban League as Affiliation
- Use of Skype Qualifications
- Need for an FA Facebook Page
- FA Meetup
- Placing a Table at the Front of Meeting
- Reading Poetry in Meetings
- Meeting Format Concern Regarding Medication
- Reading Medication Statement as part of Format
Referred to Another Committee
- Meeting Inventory
- Meeting Allowing Members with Less Than 90 Days to Share
- Developing an FA App
- Using Props at Meetings
- Health Fairs
- Meeting Health tips
Discussed and Responded to by the Traditions Committee (detailed inquiries and responses below):
- AWOLS Violate Traditions
- Showing Video in Church
- YMCA Offering Child Care to Members
- Member Bringing Clients to a Meeting
- “What is Recovery” Group Registration Questionnaire
- Blogwatch Mandarin Campaign
- Reading Medication Statement at Meeting
- Bylaws and Tradition 9
- Public Endorsement of Candidate at Convention 10 Companion Animals at Meetings
Inquiries and Responses:
1. AWOLS Violate Traditions INQUIRY
The TRC received an inquiry from an FA member questioning whether FA is violating its own Traditions. The member suggested that FA’s meeting format announcing AWOL meetings violates Tradition Six, that their meeting group accepting money from an AWOL group violates Tradition Seven, and FA’s integration of AWOL in its format, website, and book all violate Tradition Six. The member suggested several options to remedy this, including, 1) changing the wording of FA’s Traditions to allow lending the FA name to non-FA AWOLs and to accept money from these outside AWOLs; 2) revising meeting formats to stop announcing AWOLs, remove any reference to AWOLs from our literature and web site, and 3) advise FA meeting treasurers that they violate FA Traditions if they accept donations from non-FA AWOLs; 4) make AWOLs part of FA.
The TRC is not a governing body, but we have been asked by the World Service Conference (the “Conference”, or “WSC”) (i.e., the voting members, trusted servants of FA) to opine on questions and concerns expressed by members as related to the Traditions. We have thoroughly read and discussed this email and offer the following response.
When FA was formed, the WSC incorporated into our Bylaws that, because “the long-term personal recovery of AWOL participants led to the founding of FA, … AWOL meetings and the personal recovery they have engendered must be acknowledged and supported in order for FA to survive.” AWOL, as defined in those Bylaws, is, “a comprehensive method of studying and working the Twelve Steps of FA in sequence.” AWOL is not an outside organization or enterprise; it is a method of studying the 12 Steps. The TRC was consulted when these Bylaws were written; it found no infringement on Tradition 6 at that time, nor does it find one now.
The inquirer mentioned that they would like to eliminate the announcement of AWOL meetings at their FA meeting. The AWOL announcement has repeatedly been adopted by the Conference as part of the FA meeting format because of the critical role that studying the 12 Steps via this method has had in sustaining the long-term recovery from food addiction experienced by FA members. We believe that passing this on during the FA meetings is serving our primary purpose of helping the newcomer. However, in June 2011, the Conference determined which portions of the FA meeting format are required, and the announcement section is not one of those required portions. Therefore, a meeting can decide, by group conscience, to eliminate the AWOL announcement if it chooses.
The inquirer also stated that they would recommend FA change the wording of Tradition Six as adapted by FA. Doing so would require a motion be passed by the Conference during the World Service Business Convention held annually, in June. Article VIII in the FA Bylaws defines the motions process. Basically, an FA member can present a proposed motion to their meeting and if the group conscience supports it, the meeting can present that motion to the related Intergroup. Since the inquirer’s meeting is part of the Eastern Area Intergroup, their meeting could draft and present a motion to the EAI. If they would like to propose this motion, please contact EAIbylaws@foodaddicts.org. The EAI will follow their process for reviewing motions for presentation to the Conference.
The email stated that the inquirer’s FA meeting is accepting contributions from an AWOL meeting. In order to be in line with Tradition 7, the FA meeting should be self-supporting and should not accept outside contributions. In March 2000, the Conference agreed that contributions from AWOLs are not to be accepted. Groups of FA members working the Steps through the AWOL method may, however, make donations anonymously.
Many of the inquirer’s comments relate to certain FA practices, such as needing 90 days to share in front of the room or using a standard format. They were referred to the Continuing Effects Motions Manual, which can be found on the FA website under “For Members” and “Governing Documents,” for background on these practices from a historical perspective. This manual lists all decisions made over time by the voting members of FA (the WSC) during a Business Convention. Each motion was thoroughly discussed and voted on by the WSC. The TRC supports the group conscience as expressed by the voting members of the WSC in these decisions.
2. Showing Video in Church INQUIRY
The TRC received a phone inquiry from the P.I. Committee seeking a response to a member who has been in program for 6 years and is maintaining a 100+ lb weight loss. She has attended a mega-church of
~3000 members all that time and knows at least 1/2 the members who have seen her weight loss and recovery. There is also an FA meeting that uses the premises. During each church service there is a time for announcements which they do by video. She asked if it would be within the Traditions to film a 2-3 minute video about FA and her recovery. Since she is known by most of the people who would be watching, would it be awkward for her to block her face and give a different name? Could this be treated like an information session where we show our faces and give our names? Is her own church considered "the public level"?
The TRC was unanimous that this video would not be aligned with the principles of the Traditions, particularly Traditions 11, 12 and 6. In keeping with Tradition 11, “we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.” Once something is recorded, it is public, especially with social media today. Further, Tradition 12 reminds us of the primacy of anonymity, placing principles before personalities. This speaks to the importance of humility: “No individual member should ever be seen as representing FA as a whole.” If that member broadcasts to her church the wonders of her FA recovery, then has a break and relapses, it will have a negative impact on FA. Thus, FA suggests that any presentation to the public be made by more than one member. And, lastly, we need to be cautious about Tradition 6; a video played during the service might be branded with the church name, implying that FA is affiliated with that church.
The TRC suggested a better approach would be to plan an Information Session (at that church or another location). Members of the church could be informed about the session, a public service announcement could be played at church during the announcements, or flyers could be posted in the bulletin board of the church so that people can choose to attend or not.
3. YMCA Offering Child Care to Members INQUIRY
An FA group has secured a meeting room at a YMCA. The YMCA offers free child care to its members. They offered first to extend that child care to anyone in the FA group for free, then amended their offer to charge $2.00 as a public service that the building offers if you come into their building for services. The meeting inquired whether they could announce the availability at their meeting.
Via email discussion, the TRC agreed that there would be concerns with Tradition 7 if the childcare were provided free of charge but was more comfortable with asking members to pay. More concern was expressed with Tradition 6 and advised that care should be taken not to give the appearance of FA being affiliated with or endorsing the YMCA based on this offered service. Thus, it was suggested that the meeting not announce or publicize the childcare to members (or prospects). Word of it may be passed from sponsor to sponsee and in general conversations, but not in any organized fashion.
4. Member Bringing Clients to a Meeting INQUIRY
A member of FA is the caretaker of older, highly functional but disabled people. She had been bringing one of her clients (who may or may not have his/her own issues with food) with her to her FA meeting. She asked if she was on the clock, meaning if she was working. The answer was yes but the indication of the woman who asked her was that she should not be bringing her clients to a meeting. Apparently, this is the only way she can get to this meeting and make her 3-meeting quota. No other meetings are conducive to her time available. Would or should this be an issue? The member is new to the program and it would be unfortunate if this issue were to push her away from attending meetings.
The TRC agreed that this is not a traditions issue. FA does not hold “closed meetings.” Everyone is welcome. The issue of bringing a client to the meeting is between the FA member, their employer and the client they are bringing with them to the meeting. There are occasions where non-FA members attend meetings with a friend or family member for a variety of reasons and they are completely welcome.
5. “What is Recovery” Group Registration Questionnaire INQUIRY
The TRC received an inquiry from an intergroup regarding emails being distributed promoting a “relapse support” conference call and asking FA members to complete a survey if they want to be sponsors for group participants. The group is intended for food addicts who have an FA program sponsor but are unable to stay abstinent. It was indicated that participants must desire to be abstinent and want to learn how to get and stay abstinent using the tools that the facilitator had developed.
The TRC had previously opined on the formation and promotion of the group(s), noting that they would be infringing on Tradition Six (promoting and implying affiliation with an outside enterprise) and Tradition Two (an FA member positioning themselves as an expert). The TRC believes that the “teaching” modality conflicts with the principles of FA’s organizational structure as it takes the emphasis away from the recovery found in our meetings and through working the FA program as it is passed down from our sponsors, our fellows, and our higher power.
By defining requirements for membership, such a group would also contradict Tradition 3 (open membership). Tradition 12 (respecting group members’ anonymity) is at issue by the use of a questionnaire that asks about membership and abstinence, as well as using the phone list of one or more FA meetings to disseminate the email. Members who attend FA meetings provide their phone and email for use by individuals seeking recovery and fellowship through the tool of phone calls., not to receive promotional emails of any kind.
The TRC cautioned that this group not make announcements at meetings or place flyers on literature tables since it would not be an official FA activity or conference- or board-approved literature.
6. Blogwatch Mandarin Campaign INQUIRY (part 1)
An intergroup committee chair inquired about a unique situation that emerged as part of extending their “Blogwatch” initiative into [country1]. When a member sees a blog/article on websites serving potential FA members, there is an FA member who would like to be able to post the following comment: "Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is a fellowship that helps people with food, weight and body obsession. Its website is www.foodaddicts.org. In [country1], FA has a growing fellowship. You can find more information by calling Member Name at Member Phone Number and by visiting www.foodaddicts.org/tw.There is a meeting in [City Name] every Thursday night. It is open to anyone." The intergroup committee chair inquired as to whether the TRC believed that it is in line with the Traditions for the FA member in [country] to post this “comment” on [country1] blogs.
The TRC sees posting the information in this blog “comment” as being consistent with the information included in many calendar postings. The announcement does not portray the member as a representative of FA. As a general practice, it is wise to maintain as much personal anonymity (Traditions 11 & 12) as possible and refer interested parties to the FA website. However, in situations where there is a language barrier, the TRC’s belief is that FA members who can serve as a point of contact, should serve in that capacity to help the suffering food addict (Tradition 5). The member, in this situation, is providing an additional level of service. A language barrier may otherwise prevent interested parties from being able to find their way to the recovery provided by the FA program. The website URL in the proposed blog “comment” is the FA Website’s international page where the basics have been translated into Mandarin (www.foodaddicts.org/tw). Other than the other international pages (French, German, Spanish and Hebrew,) the balance of the site is written in English. The TRC believes that, on balance, posting this comment on a blog would not conflict with FA Traditions.
Of note… at the end of the page, there is language that directing viewers to contact (Ms. “X”). Is it possible to change this to a first name only, or some other non-identifying reference?
INQUIRY (part 2)
An intergroup committee chair inquired about a unique situation: A member in [country2] has run into a scenario where certain articles that surface through blog discussions, will only allow “Facebook Comments,”
i.e. in order to respond to the blog with a comment that would guide readers to FA, the blog site requires that the comment come from a Facebook account. In areas where English is the primary language, FA’s PR consultant uses her Facebook account to post comments anonymously. Since that consultant cannot communicate in [language], the member in [country2] has proposed to create her own Food Addicts in Recovery Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/fa.foodaddicts.9), where she can post anonymously. No one is allowed to comment on or become friends on the Facebook account, in order to keep it anonymous.
As a general practice, it is wise to maintain as much personal anonymity (Traditions 11 & 12) as possible and refrain from using one’s personal social media accounts (i.e. Facebook) to connect others to FA. However, in situations where there is a language barrier, the TRC’s belief is that FA members who can serve as a point of contact, should serve in that capacity to help the suffering food addict (Tradition 5). The member, in this situation, is providing an additional level of service. A language barrier may otherwise prevent interested parties from being able to find their way to the recovery provided by the FA program.
The TRC believes that, on balance, creating this Facebook account information page would not conflict with FA Traditions because it is not linked to an individual’s name or profile and its purpose is not to be actually viewed, but to facilitate Blog comment posting. That said, the Facebook account information page, as presented includes the FA Logo. While this is not necessarily a Traditions issue, it is the recommendation of the TRC that the member remove the FA logo because the account is not FA approved literature or material. If it must be included, the recommendation is to first consult with the WSI PI committee.
7. Reading Medication Statement at Meeting INQUIRY
A representative of an FA meeting group made inquiry about the TRC’s thoughts regarding an August 2016 World Service Board email sent to WSI Contacts entitled “Letter from World Service Board (WSB) Regarding Prescription Medications” which was directed to be read at that September business meeting. After it was read some meeting group members felt it was important information and believed it should be read monthly as an FA meeting announcement. The intent was to ensure that newcomers who were not at the original business meeting would hear the message and understand the WSB’s perspective on the issue. The motion was voted on and approved and the statement was read monthly thereafter. Recently, the group raised the question whether the meeting should continue this practice. Some were concerned that it might scare newcomers and that it may violate the traditions of FA, particularly the tradition that states “FA takes no position on outside issues”. The question was asked, “If FA takes no position on this issue then why does this statement exist?” The vote taken was evenly split with no majority. Since most of the members have little experience or exposure to the history or intent behind FA traditions they wrote to the TRC to ask for clarification and direction on continuing or discontinuing our current practice of reading this statement monthly.
The TRC reviewed this issue and reread the WSB statement entitled “Letter from World Service Board (WSB) Regarding Prescription Medications” and the associated email. The TRC noted that WSI Contacts were asked to “please read the following information at your September business meeting.” There was no guidance from the WSB to read the message at any FA Meetings. Although the TRC was not involved in the decision to recommend reading this letter at a business meeting rather than at an FA meeting, it was inferred that Tradition 5 was considered by the WSB when providing this guidance. Tradition 5 states that the “group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the food addict who still suffers.” The stated intent of the WSB was to remind FA business meeting attendees that “As FA members, we must be very careful to make sure that we do not advise any other members, whether sponsees or fellows, to make changes in any prescription medications before they consult their medical professionals.” This is an important principle for FA members and sponsors to be reminded of and the literature references reinforced this message.
That said, based on Tradition 5, FA meetings, unlike business meetings are structured to support the newcomer or still struggling member. The FA World Conference (all FA voting members) controls the meeting format and has decided not to include this type of message in the meeting format, nor has the Conference ever suggested this type of announcement be read at an FA meeting. The TRC believes that repeating this message regularly at a meeting is unnecessary and, moreover, could be detrimental and confusing to newcomers during their early recovery. However, should the same specific issue arise at a meeting in the future, reviewing the WSB Letter at a future business meeting could be helpful. Sponsors may also share this letter or the underlying literature resources one-on-one with their sponsees, should the prescription medication issue arise. Tradition 4 guides that meetings are autonomous and can make decisions on their own except in matters that affect FA as a whole. The TRC believes that this practice could negatively impact FA as a whole.
8. Bylaws and Tradition 9 INQUIRY
The Chair of the WSI Bylaws Committee requested the TRC review whether there is a contradiction between FA’s bylaws and some of the traditions.
There is a question if Article VIII, section3(f) is in line with Tradition 9. Another contradiction might be between Tradition 2 and Article VIII, section 3(d) in the bylaws.
The Bylaws were created with consultation with a 12 Step Parliamentarian to ensure compliance with the 12 Concepts and the 12 Traditions. All of the Concepts except Concept 11 speak to the authority and initiative of FA Conference and the World Service Board. They are set up as a check and balance on each other, with the Conference having the ultimate authority. As long as the Conference has veto authority on any of the Board's initiatives there is no need for a committee created by the Board having further surveillance over the Board's initiatives. The Conference is established to do that. This is well within the right of the Board and needs to be for effective functioning. It is standard parliamentary procedures.
Board members are elected by the Conference to allow some order and procedure and their initiative is checked by a Conference vote. This does not violate Tradition 9.
Tradition 2 is not violated by this organizational structure because a group conscience of the Board, 14 people, is required before a motion is sent to the Conference Members. Then the Conference itself requires a majority or super majority vote on all motions, thus ensuring "For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority —a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”
9. Public Endorsement of Candidate at Convention INQUIRY
A member contacted the TRC regarding the Public Endorsement of a Candidate for WSB. During the 2018 convention the [FA chair] gave a strong endorsement/ acknowledgement to [one candidate] for [their] service in setting up the convention. The concern is that this could be interpreted as an endorsement for someone with the disproportionate recognition of one person’s service over another’s. This didn’t sit well with the inquirer and they wanted it discussed and reviewed in light of the Traditions.
The TRC discussed and reviewed this topic at the September 2018 meeting. The TRC members were attendees at the convention and familiar with the gratitude expressed by the chair for the work of the convention committee. The TRC members do not believe that there is a traditions issues involved in this issue. The committee felt that this is an annual event where the WSI Chair thanks the Chair of the Convention Committee for their service; it was not personality driven and thus not outside Traditions 2 or 12. It was suggested that the inquirer could have a conversation with the chair to express their discomfort if they wish.
10. Companion Animals at Meetings INQUIRY
An FA member emailed the TRC asking whether members bringing 'companion animals' to the meetings could be a violation of the Traditions. A 'companion animal' is not the same as a 'service animal'. They also requested assistance in how one should approach this member on this subject? There may be members with allergies or fears of the 'companion animal'.
The TRC sees the question at hand as an outside issue and as a concern best addressed at the individual meeting level. The primary purpose of each group is to carry the message of recovery to the newcomer (Tradition 5). In carrying the message in a way that is effective and well-received, all individuals and meetings are asked to be vigilant in assessing the impact of their actions on the newcomer. For example, if your companion animal makes noticeable sounds or movements during the meeting, this could be quite distracting, and as a result, prevent the newcomer from hearing the message of recovery being spoken from the front of the room. Also, as noted by the inquirer, “companion animals” may cause allergic reactions for some members (including newcomers). Additionally, some members may be scared of “companion animals.” Determining how to prioritize one member’s needs over another is a complex issue for a meeting to address. One member's stress relief could cause another member to feel stress.
FA groups may wish to discuss occurrences of companion animals at a regularly scheduled business meeting to address particular needs and nuances of the members who attend that group. While recovery from food addiction is always the top priority, meetings may need to embrace norms and disciplines that ensure everyone’s well-being, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Additionally, the question of companion animals is also being discussed by MESA, WSI’s 12th Step subcommittee, aka Meeting Effectiveness, Safety and Accessibility. Further questions on this topic are best routed there (firstname.lastname@example.org).