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Let’s talk about junk food.  As cities around the country spark controversy by proposing trans-fat bans, as well as bans on large size sugary drinks, more and more people are talking about junk food, particularly how to tackle it. And this is a great time to have the conversation because kids are just starting to head back to school.

Let’s face it.  We have a problem in our nation.  Nearly 23 million school-age children are overweight or obese, making them more likely to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, and more.

However, hope is on the horizon.   School lunches are in fact getting healthier as a result of new USDA nutritional standards.  This is the first major nutritional change in school lunches in over 15 years and it is going to impact 32 million students across the nation.

On this show, we reveal the transformation you’ll start to see on your kids’ plates, and we'll learn more about what’s going on with healthy foods for kids and healthy foods for all of us, as we talk with food experts, moms and even hear from a chef at the White House.


**You can hear all about it by clicking here to get the podcast:

Special guests include:

  •        Dr. Janey Thornton, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.
  •        Sam Kass, Assistant White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives
  •        Jessica Donze Black  with the Kids Safe and Healthful Foods Project at the Pew Health Group.
  •        Alison Crockett, blogs as MsDivaBlue and is also a well- known musician.
  •        Cynthia Liu, with K-12 News Network and popular blogger.


***LISTEN to the "MomsRising with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner" radio show here:


“Junk Food, School Lunches, Better Food, and You MomsRising Radio with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner show highlights:

- Dr. Janey Thornton, who is the USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

On the USDA addressing portion size: (At 11:35 on iTunes

“They are addressing portion size and I think that’s an area that’s been a little frustrating for some folks because they’re no longer going to see this huge portion of our higher caloric items.  Our fruits and our vegetables contain many of the vitamins and minerals that we need and are typically lower in calories.  It’s also the food that many children don’t get enough of at home.”

“It’s pretty easy to eat a lot of carbohydrates because there’s a lot of carbohydrates in a lot of the processed foods, but we don’t see as many of the fruits and vegetables in children’s diets.  So we are encouraging consumption of more of those at school, so not only do they have foods that will fill them up if they’ll eat it, but also foods that have fewer calories so they’re not going to have the issue with over-consumption as perhaps they have had in the past.”

Sam KassAssistant White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives

On the importance of the parent participation (At 21:17 on iTunes

“There is no voice more important than the parent voice, in schools without a question, but for everything.  We’re seeing businesses step up and fundamentally change the way that they’re doing business because they’re hearing from parents.  We’re seeing grocery stores changing what they’re offering, trying to reduce the price of healthy options.  We’re seeing restaurants, like Darden restaurants, completely overhauling their kids’ menu making a fruit or vegetable the default option, and reducing calories and sodium by 20 percent over 10 years.  Why?  Because they know that parents are calling for this stuff..."

“It’s important to remember; right now one in three of our youngest generation will have diabetes in their lifetime if we don’t turn this around.  That’s the CDC prediction.  This is really serious stuff and so it’s gonna be really up to all of us coming together and working collectively to ensure our kids are getting the healthy lives they deserve.”

Jessica Donze Black from the Kids Safe and Healthful Foods Project at the Pew Health Group.

On what parents are saying about the new USDA guidelines: (At 30:18 on iTunes

“We did a national poll this past spring and asked parents and non-parents exactly that question, in terms of do they support this concept of serving healthier meals in schools and having healthy standards for schools, and in fact, over 80 percent of people responded that they are very supportive of healthy standards for schools.  So in the big picture of things, people are absolutely supportive and the anecdotal feedback we’re getting from people who are aware and are following the changes and are seeing the improvements, is also really positive.”

On the “Bridging the Gap” study (At 38:02 on iTunes

“This is a really exciting finding.  For a long time, many people who have been encouraging healthier standards in schools have been doing so because they see that that would have an impact on children’s health.  What the Bridging the Gap study showed definitively via kind of statistical analysis, is that in fact in states with healthier nutrition policies, that had had healthier standards for snack foods in schools, those children were less likely to be overweight and even if they were overweight in 5th grade, when they followed up in 8th grade, if they were exposed to those healthier standards over that period of time, they were less likely to be overweight in 8th grade than they were in 5th grade.  So the bottom line is it helps prevent overweight and obesity but it also might help counter overweight and obesity, both of which is extremely important to children’s health.”

Alison Crockett who blogs as MsDivaBlue and is also a well- known musician.

On her blog “Can We Eat Some Real Food Please?” : (At 41:40 on iTunes

“When my daughter was going to kindergarten, which is now three years ago, because she started third grade today - Yay!  I went in and they had this summer program so I decided to have her go and I went to the cafeteria and asked what’s there, the cafeteria worker was very nice.  She was a lovely woman.  And she just started explaining what kinds of foods were there and the blog just talks what I saw.”

“I wrote a blog about it because I just said, instead of having chicken product, can you have a piece of chicken?  Instead of having a cookie shaped like a granola bar, can you have a granola bar? We’re talking about kids who are unhealthy and overweight and subject to all sorts of diseases way before they should be.  Why shouldn’t they learn how to eat food?

Cynthia Liu, with K-12 News Network and popular blogger.
 On pink slime and advocating for healthier school lunches:  (At 57:01 on iTunes

“I know that MomsRising has been really active and a lot of folks have been really active in the slow food movement and the nutritious, organic farm to table movement to get rid of pink slime from our kids’ lunches… The problem is, we don’t really know what part of the animal that might come from and it’s sort of held together with different sorts of chemicals that don’t really sound appealing, like ammonia and formaldehyde. I don’t think I’d really want to buy that from the supermarket and I certainly wouldn’t want kids to eat that..."

“The bad news is that 80 percent of public schools still have these kinds of contracts with Coke or Pepsi so you’re going to see a lot of canned sodas and things in the schools.  And we know that schools that do not have the soda and junk food machines have lower obesity rates.  So it’s just like a really simple thing that parents can do which is to urge their local school to be one of the ones that doesn’t have these machines, because we all know that, when it’s not right there in your face, then chances are you’re probably not going to be eating it as often.”


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