WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee will host a July 1 briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss ways to not only strengthen, but supersede, National School Lunch Program (NSLP) standards.
“Childhood obesity remains a serious problem and improving school meals are a key part of the solution,” says event moderator Neal Barnard, M.D. “Nutrients impact our cognitive performance, how we store information and retrieve data. We know what works. Now it’s time to share these success stories with Congress.”
From reducing rates of chronic illness to instilling healthier eating habits and boosting academic achievement, the benefits of improving school lunches speak for themselves. The panelists, traveling from Boulder, Miami, and New York City, will offer ground-level insight about how these successes can be achieved—even on a tight budget and with limited kitchen resources.
“The proof lies in the broccoli trees and spiced chickpeas: healthier school lunches make a world of difference,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “This briefing provides a platform for schools that are taking federal guidelines to the next level, creating unparalleled demand for disease-fighting foods.”
“Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper, who increased school lunch participation in Boulder Valley School District by 7 percent, will talk about her students’ love for endless salad bars, which could be attributed to student taste tests, nutrition rainbow posters, and school gardens.
Robert Groff, principal of The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES) in Queens, will talk about how his school’s vegetarian menu and movement-based curriculum correlate with improved attendance, increased attention spans, improved BMIs, and gains in state test scores.
Darlene Moppert, M.S., R.D., program manager for nutrition education and training at Broward County Public Schools, the sixth largest public school district in the nation, will talk about successful ways to promote new menu items, cost-effective meal plans, and how to educate students about healthful eating.
The Physicians Committee will serve a doctor-approved school lunch, inspired by DC Central Kitchen (DCCK), of black bean burritos, Mexican corn salad, roasted zucchini, and fresh summer melon for Capitol Hill staffers to enjoy. DCCK chief operating officer Andy Finke will discuss the components of this meal and how he sources 2,000 nutritious meals for students each day.
Attendees will receive a “Best Practices Guide: Increasing Plant-Based Options in School Lunch Program” manual to share with their congressional representatives, public school districts, and staff.
About the Speakers
Neal Barnard, M.D.
Dr. Barnard is an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. He has led numerous clinical trials investigating the effects of diet on diabetes, body weight, and chronic pain. Dr. Barnard has authored dozens of scientific publications as well as 15 books for laypeople. As president of the Physicians Committee, Dr. Barnard leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research. He has hosted three PBS television programs on nutrition and health and recently authored dietary guidelines to reduce the risk for both cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ann Cooper - Presentation (PDF)
Chef Ann Cooper is a nationally renowned author, chef, educator, and advocate. Cooper previously served as the nutrition service director for Berkeley Unified School District and is currently the food service director for Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, which encompasses more than 50 schools and serves more than 11,000 meals each day. She has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Time Magazine and has appeared on NPR's 'Living on Earth,' ABC's Nightline, CNN, PBS' To The Contrary, the CBS Morning Show, and many other media outlets.
Robert Groff - Presentation (PDF)
Robert Groff is the principal and co-founder of P.S. 244, The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES), in New York City, one of the first public schools to adopt an all-vegetarian menu. Principal Groff has received numerous health awards, including the prestigious Golden Carrot Award from the Physicians Committee, the Silver Award from Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and recognition from Alliance for a Healthier Generation as one of the healthiest schools in the country. TALES excels academically as well, recently being recognized as the number 11 school in New York state based on test scores.
Darlene Moppert, M.S., R.D. - Presentation (PDF)
Darlene Moppert, M.S., R.D., is the program manager for nutrition education and training at Broward County Public Schools, the sixth largest public school district in the nation. Meals are available daily to over 230,000 students, including 139,000 students whose families meet requirements for free or reduced price meals. Moppert and the Broward team oversaw healthful changes to the school lunch and breakfast program, such as offering daily salad entrées and weekly vegetarian entrées, sourcing from local farms, growing school gardens, improving school practices and policies, and building in involvement from students, their families, and the local community. Broward County Public Schools was the recipient of a 2013 USDA Best Practice Award for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
Andy Finke - Presentation (PDF)
Andy Finke serves as chief operating officer leading DC Central Kitchen’s (DCCK) overall business operations, strategic partnerships, and revenue-generating operations. Joining the kitchen in 2011, Finke has brought DCCK a broad-based knowledge of contract and school food production, catering and restaurant experience, and food service technology solutions. He received culinary training at The French Culinary Academy in Manhattan. Finke has worked for more than 25 years in stand-alone restaurants, catering, hospitals, nursing homes, and public school food systems in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the D.C. metro area. Finke delivers 2,000 meals to low-income D.C. schoolchildren every day and shows that school meals can be nutritious, affordable, and sustainable.
WHAT: State of the School Lunch Tray Congressional Briefing
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room (Room 2168), 45 Independence Ave. SW
WHEN: Tuesday, July 1, Noon to 1:30 p.m.
HOSTS: Jared Polis, D-Colo., and the nonprofit Physicians Committee
SPEAKERS: Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee and adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University; Chef Ann Cooper, nutrition services director of Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colo.; and Robert Groff, principal of The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES), Public School 244, in Flushing, N.Y.; Darlene Moppert, M.S., R.D., program manager for nutrition education and training at Broward County Public Schools; and DC Central Kitchen’s Andy Finke.
RSVP: To reserve a spot at the luncheon, please email Jamie Berger at email@example.com.
MEDIA: Please contact Jessica Frost at 202-527-7342 or firstname.lastname@example.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.