Manel Kappagoda is a Project Director and Senior Staff Attorney at ChangeLab Solutions in Oakland, California where she works on public health policy.
Manel Kappagoda is a Project Director and Senior Staff Attorney at ChangeLab Solutions.
Blog Post List
February 18, 2015
If you’re a parent or caregiver of a school-aged child, you’re probably familiar with the question, “But do I have to go to school today ?” All kids, no matter how much they like school, sometimes want to spend the day doing other things. (I suppose we don’t really outgrow that urge…) But though they may have the occasional desire to play hooky, children typically don’t miss school by choice. For many students, school absences aren’t voluntary or sporadic – they are routine occurrences connected with more serious health conditions, and often poverty. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS...
November 13, 2014
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits,” explained Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964. Fast-forward to today, and for too many families, the idea of having three meals a day remains an audacious, out-of-reach goal.
September 15, 2014
September is “back to school” month for most kids in the United States. My daughter is in her last year of preschool, but some of her buddies have moved on to kindergarten. As this momentous transition is just around the corner for her, I’ve been talking to friends and family about what to expect. Last week, I visited a friend’s house for dinner. Her daughter – a typical five-year-old who knows all the words to all the songs from Frozen despite having never seen the movie – has just started kindergarten and is doing well. In fact, my friend's only concern is regarding the snacks provided at...
sugary drinks, soda, new york, nyc,
June 4, 2014
The big day has finally arrived for everyone involved in the case over New York City’s policy which limits serving sizes for sugary drinks, and which I wrote about last year . Today, the Court of Appeals in New York (which is, confusingly, the state’s Supreme Court) hears arguments over the regulation requiring restaurants to serve sugary drinks in containers of 16 ounces or less . This policy remains extremely controversial. When it was passed by the Board of Health in 2012, the cries of “nanny-state,” which dogged Michael Bloomberg for much of his tenure as mayor, reached a fever pitch. In...
March 5, 2014
I like to think I have a lot of influence over my three-year-old daughter’s choices, but it’s hard to compete with the likes of Joe Camel and friendly little M & M smiley faces. Like many parents, I worry that advertising—which has been shown to have a greater influence over youth than peer pressure—will tempt my daughter to indulge in unhealthy activities. I see how the tobacco industry markets aggressively to kids and I see how many stores in our communities do not carry fresh produce or even milk but do carry cigarettes, alcohol and soda. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where...
August 5, 2013
In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission reported the food and beverage industry spends $1.8 billion each year on food marketing to kids. As a parent, that number makes me tired, and the advertisements themselves exhaust me. I know I’m not alone—even the strongest among us have been worn down by the pester-power of a determined four-year-old who wants what she’s seen in an ad. I want my child to eat healthfully and I want to limit her exposure to food marketing that promotes unhealthy food choices. But the ads are everywhere – on television, radio, magazines, the Internet, billboards, and buses...
March 13, 2013
Earlier this week, New York Justice Milton Tingling handed down a judgment invalidating New York City’s portion control regulations on sugar-sweetened beverages. At ChangeLab Solutions , we were disappointed Judge Tingling blocked the restrictions, but we're hopeful New York City will successfully appeal the decision. Many have applauded the ruling — we’ve seen lots of chatter about how unfair it is that New York tried to take away large sodas, sweetened coffee beverages, and other sugar-sweetened drinks, and how ridiculous it was that only certain stores were affected by the ban. But the...
March 7, 2013
In today’s MomsRising blog carnival on junk-free schools, you’ll be reading about all kinds of ways to make sure snacks and other foods sold in schools are better for our kids. But we could be completely undermining those efforts without even realizing it – if we don’t start addressing another critical aspect of our kids’ experience at school. As you’ve probably read, the USDA has just proposed a new nationwide “Smart Snacks in School” rule: for the first time ever, foods sold anywhere on school property – not just as part of the school meal program – will be required to meet nutrition...
December 7, 2012
Have you checked out the water fountains at your kids’ school lately? See any like the ones you remember from your childhood? If so, are they in good working order? And how does the water taste? Sad to say, the prevalent drinking fountains of our youth are all but relics of the past. At many schools today, sugary beverages are far easier to come by than safe, free drinking water. Two years ago, the federal government passed a law requiring schools participating in the National School Lunch Program – which provides free or low-cost lunches for eligible students – to offer access to free...
October 25, 2012
I’m going to need some help, and I’m going to need it soon. My daughter Ruby is a typically happy, silly two-year old girl. Up until now, I've been able to control pretty much everything she eats and drinks. When she was born, I breast-fed her. When she started eating solid food, she enjoyed tomatoes and berries from our garden. We're careful to buy eggs from happy hens. But soon, too soon really, she'll be heading off to school and it will become harder and harder to make sure she gets the best food possible. That's why I'm watching closely to see what happens in Richmond, California this...
September 6, 2012
This weekend, I spent some time at the park with my two-year old daughter and two friends from my mother’s group who also have two-year olds. We're all working mothers, working both because we want to work and because we have to work – and the conversation quickly circled around to the hot topic of the moment: preschool. As parents think about all the factors that go into choosing the right preschool for their family (price, location, hours, etc.), they shouldn't forget to consider how the preschool will reinforce nutrition and exercise habits that will last a lifetime. I know. There are so...