Posts Tagged ‘ USDA ’

Mrs. Obama: Stop Promoting Junk Food!

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

To mark the fourth anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama is making the rounds to continue raising awareness of childhood obesity.

Tuesday morning, she made a major announcement that will impact the future of schools across the country. Mrs. Obama outlined new rules that will ban the promotion of sugary drinks and junk food in schools. The rules aren’t just limited to the cafeteria, either. Vending machines, posters, menu boards, and even scoreboards that feature unhealthy food and drinks will be phased out.

Companies spend $149 million a year marketing in schools, and 93 percent of that marketing is to promote beverages according to the USDA and reported by the Associated Press.

Companies will now have to start promoting their healthier options if they want to remain in schools. For example, Coca-Cola won’t be able to sponsor a high school football scoreboard if their logo for Coke is visible. Instead, Coca-Cola will have to use Dasani water or Diet Coke as an alternative.

“The idea here is simple — our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” the first lady said from the White House. “Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school.”

There are some exceptions to the rules. Promotions regarding bake sales and other in-school fundraisers would be left up to the schools or states. Off-campus fundraisers, like a school night at a local fast food chain, would be allowed, but posters and flyers advertising the event would not be allowed in the school. Instead, an email would be sent to parents.

The proposed rules will first have to undergo a USDA-facilitation comment period. This will decide how long schools have to remove and replace current unhealthy promotions running on campuses. The rules are expected to take affect by the beginning of next school year.

Many companies have already started the transition, and the American Beverage Association is on board with the rule change. “Mrs. Obama’s efforts to continue to strengthen school wellness make sense for the well-being of our schoolchildren,” President and CEO Susan Neely said.

But helping kids make smarter choices doesn’t begin and end at school. Last fall, the campaign announced Sesame Workshop agreed to license some of their characters to the Produce Marketing Association to help healthier options appeal to children. Parents can also encourage their children to choose healthier options. Here are six easy ways to incorporate non-sugary drinks into your child’s routine.

Let’s Move! was launched in February 2010 to help fight the increasing rate of childhood obesity in America. The campaign encourages children to get active and make healthy eating choices. In the four years since the launch, new school lunch guidelines have been put in place and childhood obesity rates are beginning to fall. Large companies, government agencies, and local towns and counties have made an effort to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Tell us: What do you think about these new rules? Do you agree that the marketing of junk food should be banned in schools?

Need more inspiration or help choosing healthier food options?? Download our free food substitutions guide!

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Summertime Hunger Hits Hard

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

As a kid, I always looked forward to summer vacation. I spent my mornings with a bowl of peanut butter Captain Crunch followed by episodes of Clarissa Explains It All. Fortunately, my mom never worked during the summer (she’s a teacher), so we spent our lazy days at the town pool or beach. My friends and I enjoyed too many snow cones, Little Debbie brownie packs, and other sugar-laden treats. I tried to make up for this by eating all of my vegetables at dinner, much to my parents’ delight. hungry boy eating sandwich

However, many children, especially in rural Tennessee, don’t get to experience carefree summers like this. They’re worried about something that most of us probably don’t think twice about–hunger. Instead of swimming, camp, or sports, these children are living in a constant fear that they will never have enough to eat.

That’s where the Lunch Express comes in. Lunch Express is a school bus transformed into a bread truck. A food bank in Tennessee saw a need to make sure eligible children received regular meals during the summer, a time where food stamps often run out. The food bank purchased four school buses earlier this year and created routes that pass through some of the most impoverished areas of the country “where poverty rates have almost doubled since 2009 and two-thirds of children qualify for free meals,” according to the Washington Post.

Rick Bible, the driver of the Lunch Express, tackles his 66-mile route through Greene County each day, transporting three coolers of sack lunches containing celery sticks, canned oranges, chocolate milk and a bologna sandwiches. For many children, this is their first and only meal of the day.

The Lunch Express isn’t a free-for-all. Bible remains at each trailer park stop for 15 minutes to make sure all of the children finish their lunches. They can’t take food or extra milk home, and adults are ineligible for the lunches, unless they are disabled.

But it’s not just kids who are hungry in the summer. Their parents are struggling, too. In an area plagued by high unemployment and lagging development, healthy food is hard to come by. Families do anything to stay satisfied when their food stamps run out and stockpile calories whenever they come available. Eli Saslow, a writer for the Washington Post, observed children eating dinners of Doritos, bread, candy, or whatever else they can get their hands on. One mother of five who relies heavily on the Lunch Express told the Washington Post she sometimes feeds her 9-month-old Mountain Dew to top off her formula.

Luckily, food stamps last longer during the school year thanks to free meals and snacks. The Lunch Express is making a difference, but one meal every day isn’t enough to satisfy these children. Congress must allocate more money to summer food programs.

We can’t make hunger disappear, but there are plenty of ways to help struggling families. Donate a bag of non perishables to your food pantry every few months. Many are in need due to record numbers of unemployment, and the food pantries need all of the help they can get. If you don’t have time to shop, a gift card to a grocery store is also a good choice. Spend an afternoon at a food bank or shelter if you have time to spare. Your kids will learn the importance of giving back, as well as the satisfaction of a good deed.

Image of boy eating sandwich via Shutterstock

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