Push for Real Food in Schools

11 Feb 2010

Slow Food USA is continuing the Time for Lunch campaign started last fall, rallying the public to tell Congress to get serious about the issues that underlie child obesity and health problems when legislators update the Child Nutrition Act this year. Last week, President Obama proposed adding $1 billion per year to the bill, which the association commends as “a good start”, and on Tuesday this week First Lady Michelle Obama launched a new child obesity initiative ‘Lets Move’.

“President Obama’s proposal to add $1 billion per year to the Child Nutrition Act is an important step forward, and we need to push our legislators to make it happen,” stated Josh Viertel, president, Slow Food USA. “That said, it is not enough to reverse the most troubling trend in our country: one third of America’s kids will eventually suffer from diabetes because of the food we feed them. And yet Congress currently spends more than $13 billion per year subsidizing the production of the very same foods that are making kids sick. We need to address the core causes of obesity, and invest in healthier food for our nation’s children.”

Congress currently provides schools with $2.68 for each lunch served, of which only about $1 goes towards ingredients. Obama’s proposed budget increase of $1 billion per year to the Child Nutrition Act would be split up between many critical programs, and schools would receive an additional 20 cents per meal at best. However, school nutrition directors and advocates agree that a healthful lunch with sufficient fruits, vegetables and whole grains would cost at least $1 more per lunch.

“The math speaks for itself,” continued Viertel. “Obesity and diabetes cost our nation $263 billion per year, about half of which is paid for by taxpayers. And yet school lunch is so under-funded that most schools can only afford to serve the cheap processed foods that fuel obesity and diabetes. Investing in healthier food is the right thing to do for our kids and for our economy.”

Slow Food USA is urging citizens to join their Time for Lunch campaign and ask legislators to add at least $1 billion to the Child Nutrition Act, as well as to strengthen nutrition standards and help schools start farm-to-school programs.

Slow Food USA has set a goal of sending 100,000 letters to Congress and have nearly reached the half-way mark.
Visit the campaign web site to find out how to send an email to legislators.

You can read the full transcript of the Michelle Obama’s speech here on the Obama Foodorama blog.

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