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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE August 4, 2009

Girl in Metro Ads Asks: 'President Obama's daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don't I?'

New Campaign Challenges Congress to Reform the Child Nutrition Act

WASHINGTON—A new advertising campaign drawing a sharp comparison between the foods served at the school the president’s children attend and those served at other schools greets congressional staffers traveling through Union Station. As Congress prepares to take up the Child Nutrition Act, an 8-year-old Florida girl featured in the new ads (PDF) points out that “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches” and asks, “Why don’t I?”

The ads, which went up Aug. 3, will be posted throughout the Union Station Metro stop in Washington, D.C. They are sponsored by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which wants Congress to reform the Child Nutrition Act to help schools serve more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat vegetarian lunch options.

“At most schools, children have no alternative at all to the meaty, cheesy, high-calorie fare that contributes to childhood obesity and health problems,” says PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. “Congress needs to help all schools, no matter how disadvantaged, to provide vegetables, fruits, and healthy nondairy vegetarian choices, and should provide the funding to make that feasible.”

The ads will be on display through August. The House Education and Labor Committee, chaired by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., will soon take up the Child Nutrition Act, which regulates the National School Lunch Program and other federal nutrition programs.

Jasmine Messiah, the girl pictured in the ads, is sending a letter to her senators, Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson, and her representative, Kendrick Meek, asking them to get more healthy foods in school across the country.

PCRM’s campaign points out that current federal policies push schools to serve high-fat, high-cholesterol foods that contribute to skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates. Childhood obesity is at an all-time high. One in three young people born in 2000 will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vegetarian, especially vegan, meals are typically low in fat and calories. Scientific evidence shows that consuming more plant-based foods can help prevent obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Both the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association have passed resolutions supporting vegetarian options on school lunch menus. However, federal child nutrition legislation still offers no provisions for plant-based meals.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

 8-year-old Jasmine stars in PCRM's new school lunch Metro ads

8-year-old Jasmine stars in PCRM's new school lunch Metro ads (PDF)

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