Maren Stewart and Barb Parnell: A failing grade
December 6, 2011
The recent move by Congress compromising the USDA's efforts to improve food school requirements — and with it the health of our children — is very disappointing.
The goal of the proposed nutrition guidelines, which are required by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act that Congress passed last year, was to make school meals healthier by increasing fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk, while setting limits on calories, salt and unhealthy fats. While the proposed revisions were not a magic bullet to address the childhood obesity epidemic, they did constitute a step in the right direction. Now, it is up to us on an individual and community level to ensure efforts to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy living continue with positive momentum.
Regardless of political views, we can all agree that feeding our children healthier food is a win-win-win for families, schools and communities. Schools play a vital role in the nutrition children receive and the eating habits they develop. We know that improving school food is a sustainable and effective way to offer improved access to healthy foods for our children.
LiveWell Northwest Colorado thinks that we all share the responsibility of preventing childhood obesity through promoting and ensuring healthy eating and active living in the places our children live, learn and play.
Our schools proactively are working to provide more fresh foods and healthier options though the following:
■ All elementary schools are including monthly fruit and vegetable taste tests and promotions.
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■ All schools are working to increase the amount of scratch cooking with the goal of 90 percent of the menu items cooked from scratch.
■ All schools are working to implement the new standards despite them not being approved by the government.
While Congress may be unraveling school meal nutrition standards on the federal level, let's continue to stay the course at home. For information and tools to continue progress toward healthier school initiatives, visit http://www.livewellcolorado.org.
President and CEO, LiveWell Colorado
Community coordinator, LiveWell Northwest Colorado