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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend Food Power! MomsRising’s conference on Childhood Obesity. The event was a delightful afternoon with amazing speakers. The room was filled with people who care about the alarming rate at which obesity is affecting our children.  The good news is that childhood obesity trends can be reversed, but everyone has to work together. EVERYONE means parents, teachers, schools, communities, government and even food companies if (God help us) we can get them on board.

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We heard two touching testimonies from moms who had realized that the cheapest food, or the way food was cooked, or the way that certain cultures teach us to eat were not the healthiest. Unfortunately, food insecurity and access to good quality, affordable food are concerns. Good quality food is many times not accessible to people who live in poverty, or people who are working hard to make ends meet, like single moms. One of the speakers, Tanya Fields, gave a riveting testimony about her “aha” moment… when after three weeks her kid’s chicken Nuggets had been fossilized in a book bag, but not exactly rotten. This couldn’t be real food, she thought! Today, Tanya runs The Blk Projek…. Check out her bio, she is truly an inspirational speaker!  We also heard from Migdalia, aka MsLatina,  who talked about her “aha” moment, when her 15 year old son was told he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, this led to a lifestyle change for her and her two boys.

Next, we had the opportunity to watch “Soul Food Junkies,” by Bryon Hurt. Byron goes on a journey to discover what soul food is, and what impact soul food has on the Black community’s health… but Byron goes beyond that, he discusses the problems of food insecurity and food justice in poor and minority communities-- where many times good quality food is inaccessible or too expensive. This documentary is truly a must-see!

I chose to attend the Junk Food in Our Schools with Yoli Ouiya, from the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, and Elisa Batista, superstar campaigner for Momsrising.org, among others. All breakout sessions sounded so interesting, but to me, this is an urgent matter because schools can have a real impact on educating kids on healthy eating. The access that our children have to junk food in schools is pretty alarming… just a few days ago, in doing research about schools in my area, i came across a school menu that had the following options for purchase: bagels, ice cream, hot dogs, chicken nuggets. I mean… really? These items for purchase? Why do they need to be sold to children? Hot dogs and ice cream should be saved for special occasions, not every week at school! Children don’t really need to be eating these low nutrition, high calorie foods every week!

 

Our kids don't need to eat this at school! Our kids don't need to eat this at school!

Elisa discussed the power that moms, bloggers and community members can have in getting things to change, especially using social media to express discontent, rally together for a cause.

Does the alarming childhood obesity rate worry you? Are you a concerned parent or community member who believes we shouldn’t allow schools to sell junk to our children? (May be cheap now, but will cost in the long run, with unhealthy adults and rising healthcare costs!) What can you do? First thing, become informed! There are a myriad of great resources online, and you can do something to make a difference!

  • Join Momsrising.org and stay informed of their campaigns tackling important issues such as sick paid leave, childcare, education and childhood obesity.
  • Check out Preventobesity.net
  • Participate in your child’s PTA, school board, attend district meetings, etc., to stay informed about food quality in your schools!
  • I urge all concerned parents and community leaders, everyone—to head over to preventobesity.net or regulations.gov to submit a comment regarding Competitive Foods in Schools (foods that can be sold a la carte, or in vending machines.) before April 9th. Below is a list of ideas you can comment on:

 

 

Have other ideas? Does your school provide healthy snack options? I welcome comments below!! Or you can tweet me, @dianalimongi  or visit me on Facebook @ LadydeeLG

(This post was originally posted on my blog, LadydeeLG)

 


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