PCRM Leads D.C.-Area Initiative to Improve School Lunches
PCRM is taking the lead in the battle against childhood obesity in a place where it can have a major impact: the schools. PCRM has placed ads around the Washington, D.C., area asking parents, teachers, students, and administrators to help improve the healthfulness of lunches at their schools.
About 18 percent of all children ages 6 to 19 are obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and a study in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity projects that nearly half of children in North America will be overweight by 2010. More children than ever are at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases associated with overweight and obesity. Since lifelong eating habits are often formed in childhood, schools can play a major role in positively influencing children’s eating habits both at school and at home.
Menus in most school lunch programs are too high in saturated fat and cholesterol and too low in fiber- and nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Serving more vegetarian meals is an easy way for schools to promote good health and improve the eating habits of their students. Vegetarian meals tend to be lower in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and higher in fiber than common school lunch entrées, such as chicken nuggets, burgers, and cheese pizza.
The ads, which were placed on buses and in Metro rail stations, call on concerned people to let PCRM help them introduce healthier options in their school lunch programs by working directly with school administrators and food service directors. PCRM will provide resources for these meetings, including statistics on childhood obesity, information about the National School Lunch Program dietary guidelines, and where to find menu ideas and recipes.
If you live in the Washington, D.C., metro area and would like to see healthier school lunches in your community, please fill out this form.
Farm Bill Reform
Congress is currently revising the Farm Bill, which helps determine what foods are available in schools, nutrition programs, and the entire food economy. There is a direct link between America’s growing rates of chronic disease and our access to cheap and unhealthy food products that are high in fat and cholesterol.
Now more than ever we must focus on moving government subsidies away from animal agriculture. In 2005, the federal government purchased more than $385 million of beef and cheese for food assistance—most notably school meals—and spent only about $50 million on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Here’s how you can help:
- If you belong to an organization that works on health and nutrition issues or cutting health care costs, please let that organization know that you want agricultural policy to be high on its agenda.
- Consider e-mailing a special group of members of Congress who may be instrumental in supporting healthy changes to the Farm Bill.