Cooking up Change National Honorary Co-chair Karen Duncan: Speaking Up for Student Health & Learning

March 01, 2010

Today we have a guest blog from Karen Duncan, National Honorary
Co-chair of Cooking up Change 2010 and wife of Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan.

Tomorrow, March 2, Karen will speak at a Capitol Hill briefing on the
future of school food along with Cooking up Change National Honorary
Co-Chair Christie Vilsack, HSC founding executive director Rochelle
Davis and the student chefs of Tilden Career Community High School,
winners of the Cooking up Change healthy cooking contest. Attendees at
the briefing will have the chance to try the healthy, tasty school
lunch
that the students created. The meal will also be served in the
House of Representatives cafeteria that same day. You can send a letter
urging your Congressional leaders to try the healthy school lunch and
attend the briefing!

Karen-blog I'm very happy to serve as the National Honorary
Co-Chair of Cooking up Change and be part of this national effort to
change the kind of food we feed our children in school.

As a
mother, I know how vital it is to give our kids nutritious food and
help them learn about healthy eating so that they will be prepared to
make good decisions about what they eat for the rest of their lives.

As
an educator, I know how vital good nutrition is to students' learning.
A piece of their academic success is the simple question of how well
nourished they are. As we look to students to achieve academic outcomes
at school, we can't overlook the question of whether we are feeding
them food that provides the fuel to succeed. I love that with Cooking
up Change, we are looking to the students themselves for inspiration
and solutions to the challenges schools face in serving fresh,
nutritious meals that support students' readiness to excel in the
classroom.

Schools have some very formidable obstacles to
serving the lunches that we might like to see. I hope that through
Cooking up Change, we can help remove some of those obstacles.

I've had the chance to visit schools while learning about this issue
and have seen some remarkable programs — some schools, for example,
that make tasty local produce a regular part of the school day and
directly connect lessons about healthy eating with the food kids are
served in school. I'd like to see children in all of our schools have
the opportunity to eat school food that exemplifies the ideas we tell
them are important about eating well. There's often a real disconnect
between what we feed children at school and what we tell them they
should eat. We need to address that discrepancy. We talk to kids about
eating fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains — now we need to serve
those foods for lunch in the cafeteria. I'd like to see choices in the
lunchroom that match up with the nutrition education piece.

The really interesting thing about Cooking up Change is that it asks
students to take that nutrition education component and translate it
into a great meal that appeals to them and to their peers. The meals
they create are just terrific. I am really proud of the students who
are taking on this challenge.

Everybody finds something they
care about doing in life, something that empowers them and brings out
their talent. I completely admire that these students have found such
passion, creativity and vision for making good food. I thank them for
focusing this talent on school food in particular. I am happy to be
working with these students in Cooking up Change to help make their
vision for school food a reality in their schools and in schools across
the nation.

Cheer-blog