This week, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act - first major bipartisan bill enacted since the election by a deeply polarized Congress. The act will replace junk food in school lunches and vending machines with more healthful options.
Several jurisdictions have taken similar action. The Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures passed resolutions recommending vegan school options. Last year, the Baltimore City public school system became the first in the nation to offer its 80,000 students a weekly meat-free lunch. According to the School Nutrition Association, 65 percent of U.S. schools now offer vegetarian lunch options.
In the past, USDA has used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. These early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Those who care about our children's health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. Additional information is available at healthyschoollunches.org, choiceusa.net, and schoolnutrition.org.