Neal Barnard, M.D., Sends More than 50,000 Carrot Seeds to DCPS to Plant Seeds of Growth
WASHINGTON—Michelle Obama earns a national Golden Carrot Award on Jan. 17 from nutrition researcher Neal Barnard, M.D., for her dedication to teaching children about school gardens and to encourage further promotion of plant-based foods.
The First Lady of the United States received the national school lunch award on her 50th birthday to recognize advancements of the HealthierUS School Challenge. A prize accompanies the Golden Carrot: Dr. Barnard will give a packet of carrot seeds, a copy of the book Vegetabibbles, and beta-carotene activity packets to every elementary school principal with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).
“Planting the seed about nutritious foods is a community-wide effort,” says Dr. Barnard in a letter to DCPS chancellor Kaya Henderson. “We encourage each school in Washington to take time to celebrate Michelle Obama’s birthday by talking to its students about healthy school lunches and disease-fighting foods.”
Obesity-fighting lunch options, such as veggie stir-fry with brown rice, broccoli florets, and fresh oranges, play a pivotal role in teaching children about the link between diet and health. In 2010, DCPS food service director Jeff Mills earned a Golden Carrot Award from the Physicians Committee for his innovative approach to bringing fresh salad bars and vegetarian entrées to DCPS.
Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School earned a Golden Carrot Award in 2013 for serving a variety of plant-based options, including quinoa vegetable stew, veggie burgers, and plenty of raw and cooked vegetables to their pre-K to second-grade elementary school students.
The Golden Carrot Awards, established in 2004, recognizes food service teams and individuals doing exceptional work to improve the healthfulness of school lunches. The Physicians Committee looks for leaders that encourage students to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports childhood obesity affects 17 percent of all U.S. children and adolescents, triple the rate from one generation ago. Dr. Barnard hopes to see more fiber-packed options in school lunch lines, as a way to help students continue to combat childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol, which affects one in five adolescents.
Studies find small changes, such as eating an apple a day, can reduce the risk of heart disease by 50 percent. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children consume at least 20 grams of fiber each day.
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.