Vilsack Connects Healthy Eating and Reduced Health Care Costs

September 24, 2009

By Rochelle Davis, Founding Executive Director

Veggies

Good news for fruits and veggies!

The day after President Obama’s message to Congress and the nation, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a speech to United Fresh Produce Association, made the connection between health care reform and healthy eating. Vilsack talked about the administration’s recognition that eating more fruits and vegetables will dramatically cut America’s health care costs and that health care reform will include encouraging Americans to eat healthier — in particular, by eating more fruits and vegetables.

As part of this effort, Vilsack said the USDA is focused on improving USDA-subsidized school meals, which he said, “for far too many of our children,” may provide “the only complete meal that they have during the day.”

We are very excited to see that the Obama administration understands the connection between health and proper eating and is looking at reforming the health care system more broadly than insurance reform alone.  (You might never know that from listening to the public debate about health care reform, but there is a whole section of the bill devoted to health promotion. More here and here.)

But in order to truly improve student access to healthier school meals (and make the ideals that Vilsack describes into a reality) schools need more money for better food. The Child Nutrition Act offers an opportunity to ensure that schools receive the funding they need for this purpose. Take action now by joining us to call for a strong, well-funded Child Nutrition Act.