A “New Day” for School Food: Talking with Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

February 24, 2009

By Rochelle Davis, Founding Executive Director

The USDA plays a major role in shaping our nation’s school food, so I was happy to see this recent Washington Post interview with Tom Vilsack, the new Secretary of Agriculture. In the interview, Secretary Vilsack declares that “there’s a new day here” and that he is committed to pursuing policies that support healthful eating – including healthy food at school.

Vilsack discusses his own struggle with weight as a child and says that “there are ways in which we can partner with local school districts and states to do a better job to provide nutrition options at school.”

When asked about his specific ideas for improving school lunches, he says:

Part of my responsibility is to find people who share my concern and have more expertise than I do. People we nominate will be people who understand this issue and have the desire to effect change. The specifics of how we can do this will come from the experts. My job is to listen to the president, who is the ultimate vision maker, articulate his vision to the people who work in this department and add my two cents' worth. The vision is, he wants more nutritious food in schools.

You can read the full interview here.

I am encouraged by Vilsack’s discussion of these issues and look forward to working with his administration and advocates around the country to reach a truly healthful “new day” in our nation’s school kitchens and cafeterias.