White House Taskforce on Childhood Obesity Releases Report Highlighting Strategies Exemplified in Ch

May 12, 2010

The White House Taskforce on Childhood
Obesity, formed with the launch of First Lady Michelle
Obama's Let's Move campaign to reverse the childhood
obesity epidemic within a generation,
yesterday released
its report to President Obama
outlining strategies for addressing the epidemic. Many of the
recommendations in the report — particularly those focused on the
school environment — include strategies
exemplified
by food and fitness initiatives underway in Chicago.

“It's exciting to see these strategies highlighted at a
national level after seeing the difference they're making on the ground
in Chicago,” said Rochelle Davis, HSC founding executive director. “We know these are effective approaches
because we see them working in our schools and communities.”
In
April, Davis participated in a White House summit convened by the Taskforce on Childhood Obesity to provide input for the
report and subsequent course of action.

HSC's efforts to transform the school food and fitness
environment in Chicago and beyond
align with the recommendations
at multiple levels, including:

Engaging students and
community in Cooking up Change for school food
. On May 17, high
school and college students from across the U.S. will battle for first
place in the final round of the Cooking up Change national healthy
cooking contest
, a culinary competition in which students design healthy
school meals incorporating local ingredients on a tight budget with
many of the constraints that food service providers typically face,
including the Institute of Medicine standards recommended in the report.
HSC launched the contest in Chicago in 2007 to engage student chefs and
the broader community in a dialogue about healthful school food and the
need for more resources for our nation’s school meal program. Since
then, meals designed by students have been served to more than 40,000
students nationwide, in the House of Representatives cafeteria and at a
Capitol Hill briefing on school food reform. Next week's contest will
take place at Taking Root, the National Farm to Cafeteria conference in
Detroit, the first time the conference has gone national.
The
contest's national reach will be highlighted in the film documentary
“Lunch Line,” which will debut May 18 at the Taking Root conference. The
film focuses on student winners from Cooking up Change as they take
their school meal to Congress to speak up for healthier school food.

Empowering
parents
. On May 19, more than a hundred parents from Chicago's
Latino and African-American communities will come together for HSC's
annual Parents United for Healthy Schools summit at to celebrate progress parents have made
in advocating for wellness in Chicago schools. After completing an HSC
training on healthy food, physical activity and strategies for change,
parents have formed more than 40 wellness teams at schools across the
city to help implement the district wellness policy at a school level.
Parent leaders were instrumental in advocating for the return of recess
in Chicago Public Schools, an initiative that school district leadership
now encourages.

Taking on the HealthierUS School
Challenge
. A key component of Michelle Obama's initiative and the taskforce report is the HealthierUS School Challenge, a USDA program
that recognizes school achievement in providing healthy food, physical
education, physical activity and nutrition education. Chicago Public
Schools recently became the first major school district in the nation to
adopt the HealthierUS Gold Standard for all school meals beginning in
the 2010-2011 school year. HSC is partnering with Chicago Public Schools
and the USDA Midwest to support schools in meeting equally high
standards for physical activity and nutrition education.

Connecting
schools with local farms
. With one of the largest farm to cafeteria
programs in the nation, Chicago is pioneering new strategies for
bringing the freshest, best-tasting produce to schoolchildren while
supporting the regional economy. The district currently serves local
flash-frozen produce several times per week and fresh local produce in
season; this program is continuing to expand. Students also incorporate
local ingredients in their entries in the Cooking up Change healthy
cooking contest.

As these innovative initiatives
develop at the local level in Chicago, HSC leaders and advocates across
the U.S. are speaking up for changes to federal policy as Congress takes
up the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which determines
school food policy and resources. Advocates point out that schools need
increased funding to provide the health-promoting meals that the
taskforce recommends. The taskforce’s report recommends
increased resources for school meals; HSC has mobilized stakeholders to
advocate reauthorization funded at President Obama’s proposed level of
$10 billion over the next ten years.

“We're seeing parents,
students and food service directors in Chicago and across the country
stepping up to do their part for kids' health,” Davis said. “Now we need
Congress to do their part and provide adequate funding for healthy
school meals.”

To learn more or raise your voice for healthy school food, please visit www.healthyschoolscampaign.org.