|NEWS RELEASE||June 17, 2009|
Montel’s Daughter Delivers Healthy School Lunch Petition with 50,000 Signatures to Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Wyntergrace Williams Asks Congressional Black Caucus to Support Meatless Meals and Nondairy Beverages
WASHINGTON—High-fat school lunches are damaging students’ health and contributing to skyrocketing obesity rates, says Montel Williams' daughter. Fourteen-year-old Wyntergrace Williams is visiting Capitol Hill to present Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., chairwoman of Congressional Black Caucus, with a petition signed by more than 50,000 students and adults who back low-fat meatless lunch options.
Wyntergrace, who is also meeting with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., has joined the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in calling on Congress to fight childhood obesity by helping schools serve more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat vegetarian meals. PCRM is asking the Congressional Black Caucus to support reform during the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which regulates the National School Lunch Program and other federal nutrition programs.
"Eighty percent of schools still serve too much greasy, fattening food to meet the government's own nutrition guidelines," says PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. "Healthy vegetarian choices could help improve the health of all students, including African Americans and other minorities disproportionately affected by diabetes and other chronic diseases."
A report in the May issue of the journal Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, finds that meat-heavy diets dramatically increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
PCRM’s petition also asks Congress to support the addition of nondairy calcium-rich beverage options in the National School Lunch Program. Current guidelines require school lunches to include cow's milk, despite the fact that many students cannot tolerate lactose.
Wyntergrace was the first to sign PCRM’s Healthy School Lunches petition, and she has also starred in a PCRM TV commercial urging more healthful school meal options. The commercial can be seen at www.HealthySchoolLunches.org.
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.