Healthy School Lunches Lay the Foundation for Better Learning

What’s on your child’s school lunch tray today?

Parents nationwide believe it’s important for schools to serve nutritious food and healthy meals to students.

A new national survey by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation  shows that people in the United States overwhelmingly support current efforts to keep school meals healthy.

The survey results come just as congress is considering whether to renew the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act law enacted in 2010 by President Obama that sets nutrition standards for school meals. The measure expires on Sept. 30.

The legislation requires that meals include at least a half-cup serving of fresh fruit and vegetables. First Lady Michelle Obama made healthy school meals key part of her signature “Let’s Move” campaign.

Among the key findings in the Kellogg Foundation survey:

  • 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. support the national school nutrition standards.
  • 86 percent say the school nutrition standards should stay the same or be strengthened.
  • 88 percent support increased government funding to expand farm to school programs.
  • 84 percent believe sustainable agriculture should be part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Also, of those surveyed, 91 percent said encouraging children to drink more water is a top priority.

The Kellogg Foundation survey also found that about 90 percent of Americans support more government spending on farm-to-school programs, which bring food from local farms into school cafeterias and teach children about nutrition.

With so much public support for healthy school lunches, it seems reauthorization of the bill would be a natural. But opponents, including the School Nutrition Association, say the healthy lunches are a financial burden for schools because of the cost and preparation time for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Others say food is wasted because children toss out the fresh food.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture found just the opposite in its research:

“Kids are eating more healthy food and throwing less food away. Plate waste is not increasing. A study released in March 2015 by the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity shows that students are eating more nutritious foods and discarding less of their lunches under the healthier standards.”

In many studies, healthy school lunches have been shown to help students do better in class and develop better eating habits.

According to Lessons from the Lunchroom, for low-income children, school lunch may be their only real meal of the day. Changes to the way healthy foods are presented and marketed in the cafeteria can have significant benefits, and can encourage children to try new foods.

The National School Lunch Program, which was created in 1946 in response to the malnourishment of U.S. children, is supported by taxpayer dollars.

 

Complete results of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation survey are available online at wkkf.org/2015SchoolFoodPoll. The poll is being discussed on social media at #KeepKidsHealthy.

Native Americans Train to Defend Mother Earth

On August 23rd, Alliance affiliate, Indian People’s Action of Montana opened camp for a 3 day Direct Action training camp. Indian People’s Action brought Moccasins On The Ground to Montana. Drawing Native Americans from across the country to defend Mother Earth they trained activists in nonviolent direct action to stop the Keystone Pipeline that the Canadian developer, TransCanada is building to carry crude oil from the Boreal Forests of Albert, Canada across the United States to the Gulf Coast.

Many Native groups believe that the Environmental Impact Study did not adequately consider potential damage to American Indian Tribes and Tribal members in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, whose water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other vital resources could be damaged by the project.

100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters

100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters

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Food Stamps and Farmers: The House of Representatives Got it So Wrong

After failing to pass a Farm Bill that included farm subsidies and food assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) in June, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a skeleton of a Farm Bill on July 11—without the food stamps. The House effectively left 46 million Americans wondering how to feed themselves and their families.

The response from House Republican leadership? House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio shrugged and said: “If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. (check out an irreverent look at Mr. Boehner) You’ve heard that before. My goal right now is to get the Farm Bill passed. We’ll get to those other issues later.” (NY Times, July 11)

So the hungry and indigent just have to wait until pigs fly, or Christmas comes in July. Congressmen who own farms themselves will get their subsidies, along with family farmers who actually need the federal support. Meanwhile, those other issues like food security; will have to wait. Indefinitely.

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Native Organizers: Trained in Seattle for a Week and Built Nationwide Solidarity for the Future

group photo native orgz training 4.11.13 (1)Last week, a group of 22 Natives from all over the country came together with a willingness to learn from each other, stand in solidarity with one another, and challenge the systems of inequity that threatens the health and welfare of our elders and youth.

In mid-February, Alliance for a Just Society began to recruit participants for their four day Native Organizer’s training hosted in partnership with the Praxis Project and Communities Creating Healthy Environments initiative. The response was unprecedented! Read more

Survival Denied: Stories from Alaska Native Families Living in a Broken System

“The indigenous hunting and fishing practices of ALL Alaska Natives, including the harvesting and sharing of fish, game, and other resources and the ceremonies which accompany these practices provide for the SOCIAL, CULTURAL, SPIRITUAL, & ECONOMIC WELL-BEING & SURVIVAL of the Alaska Native community Read more

Alaska Natives Rally for Traditional Hunting & Fishing Rights

After days of rain and snow in Anchorage,Alaska, the skies cleared and it warmed to chilly 34 degrees just in time for 400 Natives to rally in a park to call for an end to increasing regulations, enforcement and criminalization of their traditional way of life.

A unique scene in Alaska: 400 Natives taking to the streets with picket signs, unafraid of backlash, no longer willing to compromise on life’s essentials, calling on elected officials to take action and make changes.

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When Feeding Your Family Is Illegal

For Native people of the Yukon Flats, feeding your family requires the ability to hunt and fish for their foods. After spending a week in the Flats, assisting the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG) on a campaign to secure traditional food and hunting and fishing practices; I would argue that it is the only way to access healthy and affordable foods. Community members are standing up for themselves against a system that is threatening their way of life, their ability to feed themselves and their legal rights guaranteed under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Read more

Food Choices: Families or Corporations

 

Will Congress choose need or greed? Cutting the federal deficit means making some tough choices. The new report, Food Choices: Families or Corporations and online petition asks Congressional super committee members to look at bloated federal subsidies for giant corporations before they cut food assistance struggling families depend on.

Released in partnership with the Praxis Project, the report details the critical role the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s family nutrition programs play in feeding one out of eight Americans. Read more

The Distasteful Politics of Food

How, what, and where we eat everyday is strongly influenced by the federal government, in partnership with major food corporations, through a piece of legislation called the Farm Bill. Many of the social determinates of health that impact our communities find their roots in the Farm Bill a massive piece of legislation up for renewal in 2012.

We need to pay close attention to this legislation in the coming months. In particular, we need to focus on the ways in which the Farm Bill enables corporate practices that contribute to racial disparities in health, set us back in terms of racial equity, and promote greed over need. In a climate where Congress is looking to make cuts, corporate agribusiness will be working hard to protect their interests, leaving the rest of us with a huge tab that will cost not just in dollars but also in lives. Read more