Advocacy Committee member, Richard Veilleux and Cecelia Smith (my soon-to-be-kindergartener) stopped by Senator Susan Collins’ Portland office to talk about school food. We met with two of the Senator’s staff members and gave them the good news. The new healthy food standards are working.
In December, 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. This law gave the USDA the authority to update nutrition standards for school meals and to establish nutrition standards for other foods sold in schools though out the school day. Today, nearly 90% of schools meet the new standards. That means that kids here in Maine—and across the country—are getting the nutrition they need during school. There have been challenges, but that is not unexpected. Change is hard. A Harvard study showed that food waste has not increased and the GAO reports that kids like the new healthier food and that the trend of decreases in the school lunch participation that began in 2007 will be reversed due as staff and students adjust to the new menu. This change is for the best and, I predict, will lead to healthier kids.
In fact, as I perused my daughter’s September lunch menu, I was incredibly proud of the work that the American Heart Association did to make her choices healthier. I never would have considered having her eat the "hot lunch" a few years ago, but when the options include homemade whole grain pazzo bread with cheese and tomato dipping sauce or oven baked fish sticks with a whole wheat dinner roll with rice pilaf and corn on the cob and apples, I plan to sign her up.
More volunteers will be meeting with Senator King and Congresswoman Pingree in the coming weeks. Look for more posts about the other two visits.