Improving school nutrition

Monday, March 22, 2010
Did you happen to catch last night's special, Food Revolution, on ABC featuring Jamie Oliver? Jamie was in Huntington, West Virginia which has been named the most unhealthy city in the US, and WV is the most unhealthy state in the US. Jamie's mission was to witness the school nutrition system and to implement positive changes. Jamie's goal is to change the eating habits of children at the school level where they spend much of their day in hopes of those habits carrying over into young adulthood and beyond.

What I saw over the course of the 60-minute show absolutely amazed me. The foods prepared by the school were primarily processed foods. Very little whole foods were served. The nutritional guidelines handed down by the state of WV were mind-boggling. The schools are required to serve 2 servings of grains. Pizza crust and the breading on the chicken nuggests met the standards for the 2 servings of grains. Unbelievable to me.

I can remember when Emma started kindergarten two years ago. Her teacher told us that the school was no longer permitted to serve maple syrup during breakfast because it contained too much sugar. Meanwhile, there were hot dogs, popcorn chicken and submarine sandwiches on the menu. It didn't make sense. I've spent two years trying to understand the guidelines and what constitutes a healthy school lunch.

School food advocates have been eagerly awaiting action from the Senate on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, legislation that determines school food policy and resources for the next five years. This week, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chair of the Agricultural Committee, issued her proposal. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 includes many excellent policy provisions allowing the USDA to set improved national nutrition standards for school meals and calling for a ban on the sale of junk food in schools -- but the proposed funding in this bill is simply not enough.

Sen. Lincoln’s proposal calls for a spending increase of $450 million per year over the next ten years, only 45 percent of the funding that President Obama included in his proposed budget. This amounts to a funding increase of merely $0.06 per meal; this is barely enough to acknowledge rising food costs, much less improve quality or expand access.

We must act now. How can you get involved? Send a letter asking your senators to increase the funding for schools to provide the healthful meals that support children’s health and learning. Click here to submit an online letter to your local senators.

The Obama administration has made it clear that improving school nutrition and addressing child obesity are high-priority policy areas. Now, we need to ask the U.S. Senate to meet the budget benchmark that the President has set. Please take action today.

Thank you for being part of this important and timely effort for children’s health.

For more information, visit the Healthy Schools Campaign Website.


Debbie said...

Thanks for stopping by.

I really like Jamie Oliver, I think he is doing great "nutrition" things.

Great post. I am now following you.

Coryanne Ettiene | Kitchen Living with Coryanne said...

Jaime Oliver did a great project over here, he has a website that supports schools -- really swell chap! The one thing I am most worried about in our move to AZ are the school meals....I hope they are up to my expectations. Great post!