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Tag ‘ fruits and veggies ’

Changing the Way We Eat, Beginning With Our Children

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: Change is never easy. We all know people who tout their flexibility and their openness to change, but lock themselves up when change begins. (Other people of course, not us.) At the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano it is interesting to watch this take place around a subject everyone knows needs to be addressed, improving the nutrition of our children.

Obesity has risen dramatically among younger people (and adults too) over the past twenty years meaning that diabetes and other diseases are becoming a major health problem for our society. The astronomical costs of treating those diseases, as well as the other problems we face as an obese society can be prevented by changing what we eat. Most of us recognize we eat too many fats, too much sugar, too many empty calories. In principle we all understand that we should eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and more whole grains.

If we are going to take steps to implement these changes, one of the most effective ways is to start with our children through the school lunch program. By providing students with a healthy lunch, we can give them good food to eat once a day as well as helping to educate them about how good food tastes. Seems simple, right?

In fact, changing school lunches has become a major political issue. The School Nutrition Association, a lobbying group that focuses on school lunches has switched its position from supporting the changes recently implemented in nutrition standards to now asking for relief from those standards. There are anecdotes about the disruption the new standards have caused that raise legitimate concerns. Stories are told of schools in the Southwest having whole grain tortillas thrown away because they are not culturally acceptable. Applesauce is thrown away as are fresh fruit and vegetables. And of course, funding is not adequate for these districts to provide increasingly expensive healthy food.

On the other side, school districts in rural Georgia share stories of how they were able to move from fried chicken (a Southern staple) to herb-baked chicken that kids love. Locally grown grits are one of the most popular items for their school breakfast program. Here in our community, some school districts are purchasing fresh produce from local farms, providing healthy locally-grown food to their students.

But beyond these operational issues, on the political side, a group named the Coalition for Sustainable School Meals Programs has pushed Congress to designate pizza with tomato sauce as a vegetable. The goal of providing healthy food to our children gets complicated because providing school lunches is a multi-billion dollar program.

While a few people may defend the status quo of the school lunch program, most agree that change is necessary for the good of our children. For the sake of our health, we need to see a change in our individual diets, and that will only come about through education. We need to begin with our children.

Help Us Win $45,000 to Provide Fruits and Veggies to Kids!

The Farm 2 Kids program provides children in low-income areas with 3-5 pounds of fresh produce per week. Sometimes it is the only food they have for dinner.

As part of their Fighting Hunger Together initiative, Walmart is giving out grants for the most innovative and effective programs that help alleviate child hunger. Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is in the running to win one of 100 grants, but we need your help to win!

 Here’s How it Works

April 1 through April 30, go to www.foodbankccs.org/walmart to vote for our project. You can vote once a day, so please vote as often as you can.

You do not have to “like” Walmart on Facebook to participate, but do need a Facebook account. Contact Rachel if you have more questions or need Facebook help, rbraver@foodbankccs.org or 925.677.7011.

Funding for child hunger programs is especially critical considering the need that exists. Here in Contra Costa and Solano counties, 1 in 6 children struggle with hunger. The Walmart grant would go a long way to helping ensure that all children have access to the food they need to thrive.

Please share this with your friends and family!