Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who says that's not junk food?

Which of the following is considered a junk food according to national school nutrition standards?

A. Hi-C Blast - vitamin fortified sugar water
B. Poland Springs seltzer water - water with bubbles
C. French fries
D. Candy Bars

If you guessed A, C or D you'd be wrong. Believe it or not, seltzer water is the only item on this list banned as a junk food because it doesn't contain any vitamins or minerals. Yup, french fries, candy bars, and Hi-C aren't officially considered junk food. That's just crazy when you consider that children ages 6-11 are four times more likely to be obese than children were a generation ago.1 Four times! Today nearly one-third of all children are overweight or obese, placing them at heightened risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other serious diseases.2

Time for an update! Sign our petition today -- it will be hand delivered to Members of Congress June 24th:

http://momsrising.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/t/1878/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1925

The petition says: "Please update outdated nutrition standards immediately to ensure our schools provide healthy food for our children!"

In what universe are candy bars NOT junk food? The USDA's school nutrition standards were developed in the 1970's and are no longer consistent with nutrition science or current concerns regarding childhood health. For example, USDA does not consider candy bars, snack cakes, or french fries to be junk foods in schools. USDA standards don't even address calories, saturated, and trans fats or sodium.

Right now Congress is discussing ways to reduce health care costs in America. Improving nutrition in schools is one no-brainer answer.

Sign on our petition and we'll get it delivered to the U.S. Capitol next week. June 24th is Capitol Hill Advocacy Day for our friends at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. They've offered to deliver our petition along with your comments to our leaders in D.C. In fact, they have already arranged breakfast, lunch and meetings in-between with members of Congress on the Hill. Let's make sure they have a huge number of names signed onto the petition along with comments from us to deliver! Our voices are key to letting Congress know that mothers and fathers care deeply about making sure our children can eat healthy food at school.

Sign the petition today!

http://momsrising.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/t/1878/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1925

P.S. Want to go help present these petitions on June 24th? http://fs2.formsite.com/OliviaH/FoodInc/index.html Or learn more about the Child Nutrition Promotion and school food?http://www.schoolfoods.org/resources.html

1,2 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Statement Regarding Release of Estimates of Obesity Prevalence Among U.S. Children and Teens, http://www.rwjf.org/childhoodobesity/product.jsp?id=31611, Beyond Health Care - New Directions to a Healthier America, Robert Wood Johnson Commission to Build a Healthier America, p. 7. http://www.commissiononhealth.org/Report.aspx?Publication=64498

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Harkin Introduces School Food Bill in Senate , By Deborah Lehmann

Below is an article from School Food Policy. Bookmark them for future updates!

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Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced legislation last week that would tighten the regulations on foods sold in schools. The bill parallels Lynn Woolsey’s Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009, which was introduced in the House in March.

Both bills would give the secretary of agriculture the authority to regulate foods sold throughout the school environment. Currently, the USDA can only regulate fully reimbursable meals sold through the National School Lunch Program and an outdated list of “foods of minimal nutritional value.” That list is laughably short — it includes only soda water, water ices, chewing gum and certain candies, with no mention of fat, calories, sugar or sodium. What’s more, the USDA can only regulate those foods inside the lunchroom during the lunch hour. The lax rules allow schools to sell all the sodas, french fries and Snickers bars they want. And sell they do — those are the items that bring in the most revenue, and many cafeteria directors say they’re vital for keeping meal programs afloat.

Under the proposed legislation, the USDA would have to issue regulations for all foods sold on school premises, except for foods sold as part of fundraisers (a ridiculous loophole that may dilute the measure). The bills in the House and the Senate are almost identical, except that Woolsey’s legislation calls for regulation during the “extended school day,” which includes any activities under the school’s watch, even if they take place before or after official school hours. Harkin’s bill simply refers to the “school day” — which means students would be able to buy their sodas, chips and candy bars before they head off to their after-school activities…

The only other difference appears in the bills’ guidelines for the USDA regulations. Both bills would require the secretary of agriculture to issue regulations that take into account the “positive and negative contributions of nutrients, ingredients and foods to children’s diets.” Harkin’s legislation would additionally require the secretary to consider “nutrients of concern” identified in the most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

These bills aren’t going to fix school food, but they’ll get rid of the soda and the deep fryers. And with the current state of school lunch, that’s a huge step in the right direction. Contact your senators and representatives, and make sure they get on board!