School Lunches: Hope on the Horizon?

If you’ve been following this blog, you are probably already aware of my disdain for school lunches, their lack of nutrients, and their over-abundance of empty calories. And it seems that these unhealthy midday breaks strike a nerve with others, as well. I get a lot of visitors to that post about the dangers of chocolate milk, and I am so happy to know that I am not the only one who sees red when I read the school lunch menu in the local newspaper.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Michelle Obama is tackling the childhood obesity crisis and — even better — that she is targeting school lunches as one of the main ways to combat the epidemic.

On the initiative’s Website, Let’s Move, Mrs. Obama tells us through streaming video (you can read the transcript here) that the goal of the program is to  “solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.” A commendable, although ambitious goal, if you ask me. The site goes on to say that Let’s Move will accomplish this goal through a four-pronged attack:

  • by providing parents with the support they need
  • by providing healthier food in schools
  • by helping kids become more physically active
  • by making healthy, affordable food available in every part of the country

These all sound like excellent ways to help us fight this epidemic with our children, and the information provided on the site seems like much more than the sound bite or photo op that I expected. We’re talking real resources and information that school officials and even regular citizens like you and me can apply today in our schools and communities. I like it!

For example, in the Healthier Schools section there is link to “How’s My School Doing? The School Health Index.”  The School Health Index, developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a self-assessment and planning guide that schools can use to identify the strengths and weaknesses in their school health policies and programs, develop an action plan for improving their students’ health, and involve teachers, parents, students, and other community members in the improvement process. The index focuses on five health topics, most notably, physical activity and healthy eating.

Another link takes you to the HealthierUS School Challenge, where your school can apply to be recognized for excellence in nutrition and physical education. The site provides criteria, guidelines, and requirements.

Also, under What You Can do In Your Community, there are a number of links to organizations where you can get involved and have a direct impact in your community. For example, the “Help a school get healthy,” link takes you to the Website for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation where you can join the Healthy Schools Program, learn about your school’s “School Wellness Policy,” or join the School Wellness Council.

On the Accessible & Affordable Healthy Food page, there is a link to the Food Environment Atlas where you can use an interactive map to locate “food deserts,” where access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited,  and get an overview of the food choices, health and well-being, and community characteristics in your community. Pretty cool.

There’s also a great section called Kids Collection, which is full of activity books, games, videos, posters, and magazines all geared towards children and adolescents.

If your interested learning more, you can join the call to action, or you can follow the Let’s Move initiative through their blog, through their Public Service Announcements, on Facebook, or on YouTube.

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