Gearing up to reform the Child Nutrition Act

By Debra Eschmeyer

Barack Obama can affect whether a child's life is shortened prematurely by 15 years.

The oft-quoted statistic that one in three children born in 2000 will be diabetic in their lifetime demonstrates we are at a tipping point, both figuratively and literally…on the scales. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were overweight in 2007. In the late 1970s, that number was only 6.5%. It's time to act — or start buying stock in the makers of blood-sugar monitors.

Obama doesn't have to like beets, but he must address our nation's health crisis by prioritizing school meal programs as integral components of children's education. The President-Elect's proposed economic stimulus plans will be all for naught if we aren't investing dollars in the nourishment of our children.

Fortunately, a piece of federal legislation called the Child Nutrition Act is up for reauthorization that Obama can champion for change. This is THE legislation that determines what a child eats at school. And considering that more than 30 million children eat a school lunch five days a week, 180 days a year, the federal Child Nutrition Programs are where we can truly make great strides toward a healthier America. The Healthy Schools Campaign project, Fresh Voices for Fresh Choices, wants  the President-elect to ensure the 2009 Act will:

  • Increase funding for school meals, taking into account rising food costs
  • Provide incentives for schools to offer healthier foods and increase access to fresh produce
  • Improve nutrition standards for school meals so that the standards align with the most recent dietary guidelines
  • Establish standards for food sold in schools outside of the school meals programs, such as foods sold at snack bars and à la carte lines
  • Support local wellness policies and nutrition education.

The time is ripe to voice ideas to the new Administration that include support for locally and regionally grown foods in national meal programs. Take five seconds of your time today to click here, and sign the campaign's petition for healthy school lunches. The petition will be delivered to President-elect Obama to urge him to support reform of the Child Nutrition Act.

Whether you have a child in school or not, feeding America's children is about investing in our nation's future. So let's step up to the plate.

Debra Eschmeyer is the marketing & media manager of the National Farm to School Network and the Center for Food & Justice; she also works a fifth-generation family farm in Ohio, where she raises organic heirloom fruits, vegetables, and chickens.

Photo credit: USDA

6 Responsesto “Gearing up to reform the Child Nutrition Act”

  1. leena! says:

    What a great post, Debra. I really found all the stats you listed helpful and informative. Thanks for participating in Fresh Voices for Fresh Choices!

  2. "Barack Obama can affect whether a child’s life is shortened prematurely by 15 years."
    I'm all for good nutrition but I also want good statistics. If 25% vs 6% of the people are getting diabetes giving a 15 year decline in longevity then the decrease averages out to more like 3 years, not 15 years, if I just did my math right. Using the maximum possibility for an individual over population averages (mixing the two) doesn't work. It is important not to abuse statistics to make a point as it can cause a loss of credibility.

  3. Walter,
    The 15 years is the average shortened life span for diabetics due to disease-related effects to the liver, heart, etc., the stat most Diabetes Educators will pummel into your head to better monitor blood sugar.  I should have explained that better.

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks for the post! But I do have to say that some kids do love beets!

    http://healthyschoolscampaign.org/?beets

  5. All parents should massively support the Healthy Schools Campaign project and protect their children from the lure of junk food which can have regrettable effects on their body and self esteem, later.

  6. Todd Bell says:

    Good afternoon -
    Three cheers for your bold ads regarding the inequity in healthy lunch choices among the president's children and the average American citizen's children.  I hope you will continue to carry the banner for this and not be intimidated by the White House's tactics.
    Sincerely,
    Todd Bell