Many people often come to me concerned about the quality of their child’s diet. This concern is understandable based on the fact that 1 in 5 American children are obese. Recently, this topic has come to the forefront through the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization controversy. Every five years, congress reviews and approves this bill which provides many nutrition programs for schools. The new bill proposes a $4.5 billion provision so that low-income children can receive meals, and schools can afford healthier choices—more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat meats and dairy products. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the funding is only half of what was first proposed, providing only a $0.6 increase. This gives a total of $2.68 per lunch, including overhead and salaries. Astoundingly, this reimbursement formula hasn’t changed since 1973. Can you imagine operating your current household budget at the level that existed 37 years ago?
While the Senate has passed the bill, momentum has slowed at the House of Representatives. Controversy has brewed from anti-hunger interests, whose priority is to increase food intake in poor people—mainly through food stamps. So what is more important? Really, both are equally vital to the health of our communities. Hopefully, a compromise benefiting both sides can be agreed on.
Let’s get back to the heart of the issue—children’s nutrition. Maybe some of you have seen the television show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”. This series is all about improving our school lunches and changing the way we eat from processed to fresh. It’s about bringing the community together to better our health. Making change has to start locally and together we can make a difference.
On his website, Jamie Oliver has posted a number of measures you can take to improve your community’s nutritional health.
1. Sign the petition on my campaign website. www.jamiesfoodrevolution.com/petition. Show government and industry how many of you care about the health of your children and what they get fed at school.
2. If you can cook, teach others. If you can’t cook, learn how. Pass on your food knowledge to your kids, your family, your friends. Pledge to make a meal from scratch with your family once a week. Don’t let cooking become a thing of the past.
3. Ask your child’s school these questions:
What’s the food like? Would I want to eat it?
How often are the meals cooked from fresh ingredients?
Exactly what is in the processed food on the menu?
When will you stop serving junk food for school lunches?
When will my child be taught how to cook at school?
4. Complain. Start a letter campaign to supermarkets, food retailers, manufacturers, and fast food chains. I believe that the people of America are much more powerful than big business. Together you can challenge the food industry and demand better for your families, employees, and customers.
5. Know what’s in your food. Look at the label. If the ingredients list is full of things you don’t recognize, don’t buy it. If it has things you could find in your grandma’s pantry, then do. You can make all the food in the world without these extra additives. Burgers, pizza, ribs, and pasta – the real versions don’t have all of that stuff in them.
For more information on Jamie Oliver click on http://www.jamieoliver.com
This guest blog post was created by Michelle Marvin, Dietetic Intern. Michelle is currently a student in Eastern Michigan University’s Masters in Human Nutrition with a Coordinated Program in Dietetics. She is passionate about improving the health of our communities.
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness