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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.

Daley Weekly: D.C. Summer Nastiness is in Full Bloom

billD.C.  Summer

The political season is in full flower in D.C. Lots of things are being proposed and voted on in both Houses of Congress that will not become law any time soon. There is no looming debt default or government shutdown, so everyone simply is taking a stick to everyone else. They will be doing this for a solid three weeks in July.

Immigration Confrontation

A huge confrontation is coming on immigration. Two months ago Speaker John Boehner seemed to be prepping his caucus to take a vote on some version of reform. The Administration seemed to be doing things to accommodate this possibility. Events: Eric Cantor’s loss, Obama’s falling approval ratings, international crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, economic stagnation, the children’s march into the arms of ICE.

Instead of pushing reform, some House Republicans are calling for a cessation of deferred prosecutions – deporting record numbers of people apparently is not enough. All of this comes on the backdrop of a wildly unpredictable election season. What happens if inaction in the House continues? Obama cannot but react, he is being invited into a confrontation.

Things got started in earnest last week when Speaker Boehner began readying a lawsuit over executive power. At week’s end, Obama bluntly told Boehner that if the Speaker did not like him using his legal authority, then the Congress could very well do something about immigration.  More will come soon as the debate widens over what to do with the refugee crisis on the Southern Border. Read more

Dumbing Down Health Benefits: More Bad Ideas From Insurance Hustlers

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 12.12.19 PMThe U.S. House has passed an interesting little bill titled “Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014.”

This innocuous little title hides behind it a serious threat to both the Affordable Care Act and to some of the 13 million immigrants living and working in the U.S.

The supposed idea behind this bill is to make legal an insurance product for sale to people who spend considerable portions of their time living outside of their countries.

In order to free insurance companies to sell these products the bill exempts this type of insurance from significant portions of the ACA, including minimum benefit coverage. Dumbing down the benefits under the ACA is exactly the wrong direction to take, but there is an even bigger problem with this bill. Read more