Join the Healthy School Lunch Revolution!
Each school day, the government puts the health of students at risk with greasy hot dogs and fatty dairy products. You can change that: This spring, when the Child Nutrition Act, which regulates the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program, comes up for review, sign our petition urging Congress to give students more healthful vegetarian options.
The Child Nutrition Act (CNA), which plays a critical role in determining what foods are served in the National School Lunch Program, has posed a long-standing obstacle to providing students with more healthful fare. The fundamental problem with the CNA is that it’s designed to benefit American agribusiness—and not our kids' school lunches.
Every year, spurred on by legislative mandates, the U.S. Department of Agriculture buys up millions of pounds of surplus beef, pork, and other high-fat meat products to distribute to schools. In lunch lines across America, students end up with these unhealthy options, even as schools struggle to provide fruits, vegetables, and low-fat plant-based meals.
This is probably not what President Harry S. Truman imagined in 1946 when he signed the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act "as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children" or what President Lyndon B. Johnson intended when he signed the Child Nutrition Act of 1966.
Today these programs provide artery-clogging, high-cholesterol foods that have helped the childhood obesity epidemic reach record levels—16 percent of children ages 2 to 19 are now obese.
"These bad foods are unfair to students," says PCRM nutritionist Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D. "Many of them have no idea that the foods in their school lunch lines are setting them up for serious health risks—like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer."
As the CNA comes up for reauthorization, you can make a huge difference by asking Congress to take this opportunity to reform the school meal programs. It’s simple: Sign PCRM’s petition urging Congress to help schools stop serving so much saturated fat and cholesterol and start offering students more fruits, vegetables, and other healthful foods. If enough students, parents, teachers, and community members tell Congress that students need healthier foods, Congress will make these changes in 2009.
Sign the petition today at HealthySchoolLunches.org—and make sure to share the petition page with every student and concerned parent and adult you know.
Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.
PCRM Online, February 2009