Thanks to The Daily Star for voicing support for changes in school food with the passage of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
The debate over the House of Representatives’ attempt to roll back these changes to school meals required by the act, though not surprising, is unfortunate. Your recent opinion column noted that the School Nutrition Association, which represents school nutrition directors and school food providers, endorsed the House bill. Since then, 19 former association presidents have broken ranks with the group, now urging Congress to keep the regulations intact, writing that “we must not reverse the progress that was sought by school leaders and is well on its way to success in most schools.”
As a society, we have begun taking baby steps to address the major public health crisis that is childhood obesity. But without significant overhaul in children’s physical activity and food environments, our kids are on a trajectory for harmful and costly health outcomes.
During school days, children consume nearly half their daily calories at school. Forty percent of their daily calories come from junk foods — think soda, sugary fruit drinks, cakes, chips, cookies, doughnuts and ice cream. The food kids eat at school represents a huge opportunity. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that young minds and bodies are developing.
In addition to their need for movement, kids’ “engines” need quality fuel for peak performance and learning! We don’t fill our gas tanks with motor oil or transmission fluid and expect them to be at peak performance. So, why push back when our kids are now being provided with “high octane” food choices in school? This new child nutrition law may have the single largest societal influence on kid’s weight and health in the coming decades.
Thomas E. Hohensee
Hohensee is the Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Specialist Coordinator for Healthy Schools New York.