Meet Laura Sypal, volunteer advocate for healthy living. Laura traveled to Washington, D.C., last year to advocate for improved nutritional standards for school meals. Laura joined with other advocates from Nebraska to visit with our Congressional delegation about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, and increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, especially as it relates to cardiovascular health.
As a mother of three small children, I consider it my job and privilege to help them grow up healthy and strong. I feel that one of the best and easiest ways I do this is by feeding them nutritious food and living an active lifestyle as a family. I am a firm believer that food can be either our best medicine or our most frequent and accessible form of poison, and therefore I am passionate about preparing and consuming nourishing food and keeping up on the latest nutrition research (much of which is funded by the AHA)! I can often be found in my kitchen, washing and cutting fruits and veggies for snacks or experimenting with recipes to make them healthier, whether it's sneaking quinoa and carrots into my family's meatloaf or subbing applesauce, honey and whole grains for some of the fat, refined sugar and white flour in baked goods. We try to implement exercise into our normal daily routine, often walking to school or spending a good portion of our free time each day doing active play such as riding bikes or scooters, swinging, climbing, dancing, jumping, etc! While I do not have a personal history of heart disease, I have a few close friends who do and I know how important it is to take preventative action now against such a prevalent disease.
My oldest daughter, Claire, started kindergarten this year and now spends a large percentage of her time at school, often eating hot lunch with her friends. It is so important to me that she receives healthy food from school while she is there, and that the school build on what I am teaching her at home about healthy eating and exercise habits. Looking beyond the needs of my own family, I know there are kids all over the US whose families struggle to put food on the table, and for many of those kids school lunch is the only real meal they may eat all day, as well as their only opportunity to receive fresh fruits and vegetables. I know the AHA has worked hard to help improve the quality of school lunches through government programs and I desire to help support them as they seek to continue and add upon these programs, for the health and well-being of our future generations.
This is one reason why I am so excited to be an advocate for the AHA this May in our nation's capital for You're the Cure on the Hill Lobby Day, with emphasis on protecting school meal nutrition. I look forward to learning how to be a better advocate for this cause and meeting with our representatives to personally ask for continued support of school lunch nutrition and NIH funding.