Stand Up for Healthy School Food!

Ellen Haas Health Guide
  • It really matters what food is available to kids in our nation's schools. Today, because of inadequate standards, too many schools sell sodas, candy, cookies and other unhealthy snacks in vending machines and school stores.


    Thank goodness Congress is finally tackling the issue so our children can have a brighter future. There is growing support for the School Foods bills being considered and it is time for all of us to stand up for healthy school food.


    As we all know, the rates of childhood obesity have skyrocketed. In fact, according to a recent CDC study 19% of children ages 6-11 are considered overweight and 17% of adolescents are overweight. It is widely agreed that children's diets that are high-fat and high-sugar while low in nutrients, contribute to the growing increase in childhood onset of diabetes and other serious health risks.

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    When I was in government in the 90s during the Clinton Administration, I was responsible for the National School Lunch Program and led the effort to update its nutrition standards for the first time in 50 years.


    Since then, there has been real progress in our school cafeterias because now it is required that school lunches meet the US Dietary Guidelines including 30% of calories from fat. Now is the time to focus our policies beyond the school lunch room and update the rules for what can be sold in schools throughout the day.


    To find out what is happening in Congress today, I sat down with Dr. Margo Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science and the Public Interest and leader of the broad coalition in support of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act. Here are the highlights of our conversation at Ellen's Healthy Table.


    Ellen: How can the School Foods bill,being considered by Congress, make a difference in the food available to children at school?


    Margo: It will change the food culture in school to make it healthier. It will get rid of soda, candy and Ho-Ho's in vending machines and provides a reason to bring in more healthy foods.


    E: What does the School Foods bill do?


    Margo: It provides strong standards for foods sold outside of school meals. It insures that kids have healthy food options at school.


    E: I understand there is growing support in the Congress, how do you know the bill is gaining momentum?


    Margo: The number of co-sponsors of the bill is up to 107 members of the House of Representatives. That number has tripled over the summer.


    E: What can FoodFit members do to help get the bill passed?


    Margo: Call your Representative or Senator and ask them to co-sponsor the bill.


    Yes! The time is now for Congress to act on this important legislation. There is strong public consensus that this needs to be done. A recent Harris poll found that 88% of Americans think that public schools should do more to limit access to unhealthy foods in school.

    What are you doing at your local school? What are your thoughts about this important debate in Congress that affects the health of our nation's children?


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    From Ellen's Healthy Table:

    A recipe for a delicious, healthy snack your kids will love when they come home from school

Published On: September 13, 2007