The science is clear: children do best academically and are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes if they eat healthy foods. For millions of children and families in Colorado and across the country, school meals are a lifeline, providing students with nearly half their daily calories and a consistent source of good nutrition.
The American Heart Association knows that food insecurity, a common cause of inadequate nutrition, contributes to disparities in chronic disease outcomes, especially for cardiovascular diseases. That is why here in Colorado, the organization is supporting the Healthy School Meals for All ballot initiative.
This November, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to vote on the Healthy School Meals for All ballot initiative. If passed, the initiative will give students access to free, nutritious meals made with quality ingredients.
Millions of children rely on their schools for a healthy breakfast and lunch. Providing healthy school meals for all can remove financial burdens for families, help children who might be on the edge of eligibility access nutritious meals and mitigate the stigma some students face in their school cafeteria.
We also know that healthy kids perform better at school. Studies show that providing kids with a healthy breakfast and lunch makes them more attentive and engaged in the classroom, leading to better grades, higher attendance rates, and higher graduation rates.
In addition, the initiative supports Colorado farmers and ranchers by increasing reimbursement for districts to purchase locally sourced food. School districts would have the ability to be part of a local procurement grant program to purchase food from local farmers and ranchers to make healthy school meals.
While there are no simple solutions to ending hunger for every Coloradan, the Healthy School meals for All initiative is a huge step in the right direction. The program is a chance to bring together students, parents, teachers, school leaders, nutrition experts, and policymakers to work for the healthy future every Colorado child deserves.
If you would like to learn more about how you can help ensure all Colorado students have access to heart healthy food, visit www.yourethecure.org/coschoolmeals.