Healthier School Meals Can Mean Millions of Healthier Kids
I'm proud to say that we've made major improvements to school meals that will show up in cafeterias this school year. Students can now expect more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; low-fat and fat-free milk choices; and foods with less sodium and trans fat. They can also expect “right-size” portions with calorie counts based on the age of the children being served. These improvements will help kids stay alert, study hard and grow stronger.
A lot of people might be surprised to hear that 32 million kids eat a school lunch every day and 12 million eat a school breakfast. Many children count on the school day as their best – and potentially their only – chance to get a nutritious meal. The fact that so many kids and families benefit from school meals makes the quality of those meals that much more important.
The President and First Lady have supported the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in making nutrition a top priority. In fact, the First Lady -- who launched the Let’s Move! initiative to combat childhood obesity -- is an ardent supporter of the meal improvements. She understands, as I do, that kids spend so much time at school that it’s a perfect place to help them learn healthy habits that last a lifetime. In order to make the next generation of kids healthier than the last we need them to embrace nutritious foods and physical activity at an early age. Schools can play a big role in making that happen.
When the President signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law, which made these improvements possible, we couldn’t wait to get started implementing the provisions. But we still need help from all of you to maximize their impact. For example, parents can support schools by incorporating advice from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans into their meal plans at home and reviewing school meal menus with their kids each week. There are many more suggestions for how everyone can pitch in on our Healthier School Day web site.
The fact is, it will take all of us working together – parents and caretakers, schools, teachers, local and community leadership and many others -- to help kids adapt to the changes. That’s why I’m thankful to MomsRising and all the many web sites, organizations, and other partners that support our efforts to ensure the health of America’s most precious resources – our children.
This post is part of the MomsRising "Making the School Day Healthier" Blog Carnival headlined by Top Chef Lorena Garcia."