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Child nutrition, a visible cause this year

untitledToday the House Committee on Education & Labor will markup— consider and possibly revise— the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act, which is the House’s revamped version of the Child Nutrition Act.

If you’ve been following, the Senate agriculture committee proposed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in March, which was their stab at reauthorizing the bill that pays  for school meals, income based nutrition programs and is the avenue the USDA uses to impose regulations and standards.

These efforts are part of a flurry of legislation and initiatives launched in recent months, aimed at tackling childhood obesity, a worthy cause few argue against though many hold different opinions on the appropriate strategy.

Campaigns to end hunger and childhood obesity, for example, have traditionally been viewed as separate issues. When a child is hungry, providing food is critical while providing healthy food is desirable.

But as the number of people relying on food stamps has risen — up 6.1 million a month from 2008 to 35.5 million in 2009—  so, too, has America’s weight problem, with researchers projecting the majority of adults will be overweight or obese in 2030.  It’s clear both issues are becoming critical– and intertwined.

Isn’t it interesting, for instance, that 9 out of the 10 states with the highest rates of poverty also happen to boast the highest rates of overweight and obese children.

Even more telling was a report from the Partnership for America’s Economic Success, which found toddlers who grew up in families who struggled with food scarcity are three to four times more likely to become obese adults.

But the economy is far from recovered and more families will fall on hard times before things start looking up. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities forecasts the poverty level to engulf as many as 10 million people.

Faced with such significant need amid dwindling funds, dictating what kinds of foods starving families should eat seems ill-placed. As citizens, however, you can make a difference.

And here’s one way.

Non-profit Schools Serve has launched a national food drive as part of its campaign to end childhood hunger. Take part at your school by not only donating food, but healthy food for undernourished children.

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|July 14th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, Policy Formation, Wellness|Tags: , , , |

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