Dear Congressional Leaders,
As parents, we try hard to ensure that our children eat healthy meals.
Its an uphill battle, because there is too much junk food in our schools and there are not enough opportunities for physical activity. And our kids are paying the price with their health. As a parent who cares deeply about my children and my nation's future, I urge you to cosponsor the "Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection" bill to be introduced this fall by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). These bills would remove junk food from our schools by updating and strengthening the nutrition standards for foods sold on school campuses outside of the federal school meal programs.
Currently, low-nutrition foods are widely available in school vending machines, cafeteria snack lines, at fundraisers and school stores. The most common items sold out of these venues are soda, other sugary drinks, candy, snack cakes, and chips. Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have doubled in children and tripled in teens. And children's poor diets are negatively affecting their health. Alarmingly, studies show that as a result of obesity-related diseases this generation is likely to be the first in centuries to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Improving school nutrition helps students learn - and doesn't hurt the bottom line. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control found that schools can switch to selling healthy foods and beverages without losing revenue.
The federal government invests significant resources in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs and has strong nutrition standards for those meals. Selling low-nutrition foods through other venues in schools undermines that investment, parents' ability to feed their children a healthy diet, and children's health.
I am sure you share my concern that all our children grow up to be strong, healthy and productive adults. Your support for children is very important to me and other parents in our state. Again, I urge you to cosponsor the "Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection" bill. I look forward to hearing your position on this legislation.