President Obama Speaks Up for Healthy School Food, Farm to School Programs

August 24, 2009

By Rochelle Davis, HSC Founding Executive Director

Green-beans  

President Obama spoke at an Organizing For America National Health Care Forum on Friday and made the following comments about school food and the upcoming debate on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act:

When it comes to food, one of the things that we are doing is working with school districts, and the child nutrition legislation is going to be coming up…Let's figure out how can we get some fresh fruits and vegetables in the mix, because sometimes you go into schools and you know what the menu is. You know, it's french fries, tater tots, hot dogs, pizza. Now…that's what kids want to eat anyway. So it's not just the school's fault….And so what we've got to do is to change how we think about, for example, getting local farmers connected to school districts, because that would benefit the farmers delivering fresh produce, but right now they just don't have the distribution mechanisms set up.

I was thrilled to see the president highlight the value of healthy school food and farm-to-school programs in the context of our national health care strategy. Healthy Schools Campaign has been championing the argument that properly funding school food is a good investment in terms of student health and education. 

With high rates of childhood obesity, particularly among the same group of children who participate in federal school food programs, and the struggle to control health care costs, providing school districts with the resources to serve students healthier meals make sense—dollars and cents. 

Congress must reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act by the end of September. In doing so, our elected leaders have the opportunity to make changes to the federal school food program: providing adequate funding, establishing better nutritional standards and making sure that all eligible students are able to participate. Click here to let your elected officials know that you want a strong and healthy federal school food program.

It is interesting to note that the president recognizes the value of farm-to-school programs and the need for establishing local and regional distribution systems. For years, Healthy Schools Campaign has been championing farm-to-school programs. 

We are so proud to be supporting the Chicago Public Schools' efforts to provide regionally grown vegetables to CPS students for lunch at school.  Kudos to CPS’ partner Chartwell-Thompson Hospitality for figuring out a way to provide these tasty, healthy vegetables to Chicago students all year round. Working with local farmers, Chartwells-Thompson has arranged for a local processor to flash-freezing regionally grown vegetables within 48 hours of harvesting.  The result is a higher quality, better tasting more nutritious vegetable all year long.I hope that soon, all children will have access to this type of tasty, healthy, regionally-grown produce at lunch. 

Check out the video below to see President Obama's full speech, including his comments on school food, or click here for the full text.