In early 2007, a group of parents held an international phone meeting to plan the creation of the first worldwide organization to focus on parents and carers of eating disorder patients. We chose the name Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders both for its meaning as a title and for the energy and joy of its acronym. We came together after years of networking between various activists online and in person, most of us participants on an online forum that had been supporting parents since 2004 under a series of names and addresses. What we had in common was an interest in supporting patients in an evidence-based and family-based way. We shared an interest in the power of families to act assertively and work with excellent specialized treatment professionals in a team approach.
The history of eating disorder treatment has often been one of family separation and even blame, and F.E.A.S.T. created a set of Founding Principles to set us apart from that history and embrace newer science and practice. We invited leading clinicians and researchers and activists in the field to serve as our advisers and mentors in the same spirit of collaboration that we feel parents can achieve with the treatment professionals treating our loved ones.
In April of 2009, our organization successfully achieved 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the U.S. I.R.S., a designation that is recognized internationally as an indication of legitimate management and practice. Our name is registered with the U.S. Trademark Office, and we are incorporated as a non-stock organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia, U.S. Our Board of Directors and Advisory Panel live and work in several countries and we publish materials in English, Spanish, and French.
Since our beginnings, F.E.A.S.T. has established a budget and Strategic Plan as well as a number of services. Our all-volunteer staff participates in conferences and activities around the world, and provide support to families online, by phone, and in person. Laura Collins, our Founder and first Executive Director is an active participant in the eating disorder community, speaking at conferences and writing articles for both eating disorder and mainstream media.
From 2008-2010 we were exhibitors at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) annual conferences. In 2008 and 2009 we held pre-conference events to meet one another and other conference attendees.
F.E.A.S.T. also takes a stand on issues of special importance to the parent community. In 2009 we spoke out against “Parentectomy” during hospitalization, we issued a Position Statement that parents do not cause eating disorders, and we voted to support an Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) talking points document on School BMI Screenings. Our Media Outreach committee has successfully worked behind the scenes to get outdated and damaging information about eating disorders changed on major websites, and we have worked with numerous news media organizations to publish science-based information on eating disorders.
In recent years F.E.A.S.T. has held three conferences in Virginia (2) and Dallas in the US, Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia, Nottingham and London in the UK, as well as a Congressional Briefing in Washington DC and many Lunch and Learn and other educational events. In 2018 we held our first FEAST of Knowledge to share people and research from the Academy for Eating Disorders ICED conference in Chicago, and we are scheduled to have another in New York City on March 17, 2019.
Among our goals as an organization are: to make sure families have access to science-based information and support services as easily and quickly as possible after diagnosis, to influence eating disorder organizations and professionals to consider family as a resource, to improve public perception and understanding of eating disorders.
We are a membership organization and supported exclusively by individual donations. We do not accept corporate sponsorship or advertising. Please join F.E.A.S.T. and consider making a donation to help us do our work!