If you’ve been following our conversation on Facebook, you’ve noticed some sobering facts regarding the state of the health of our children:
- 1/3 of American children eat fast food every day
- Kids who frequently eat fast food have higher rates of obesity
- An obese child has an 89% chance of growing into an obese adult
- Only 1 in 210 obese adults ever regain a healthy weight
What does all this mean?
It means that our jobs as parents and educators just climbed another rung on the ladder of importance. Curing our country’s obesity woes starts with us – the adults in our children’s lives - changing the way kids eat.
The power for change is within our control.
Kids don’t know it, but they need adults in their lives to be role models for good behavior. Without our guidance and advice, kids do what kids to best…..make impulsive decisions that come back to bite them. Teaching children healthy habits is as important a lesson as brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and looking both ways before crossing the street.
Yet we have a Congress bickering over whether to lower current nutritional standards of the National School Lunch Program. When 80% of our children attend public school and consume 50% of their calories there, do we not have a responsibility to provide sound nutrition?
We have a powerful lobbying group (errantly called the School Nutrition Association) leading the movement to repeal standards. Backed by big processed food manufacturers with billions invested in public school lunch commodities, the SNA is fighting to reverse current nutritional standards in favor of lax ones.
Why take a step backwards now?
Perhaps lowering standards seems like a good idea when public schools are leaving the National School Lunch Program in record numbers. Kids are throwing out more food than ever before and have initiated thriving social media boycotts to drive the change they want to see (#thanksmichelleobama). Districts are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year due to increased waste and decreased participation.
It is obvious that change must happen.
But there must be a better solution than backing off current standards. If we lower standards, we are making decisions at the expense of our children instead of for their benefit. If we lower standards, we are prolonging our current health crisis, not fixing it. If we lower standards, we are not leading our children, we are giving in to them.
For us at WT Café, the solution is an easy one. We cook fresh food for kids and families every day in local kitchens across the country. So far, we’ve served over 2 million meals at over 200 schools across the country. We’ve built a program that helps schools and families elevate the quality of their food choices, so they can feel good being part of the solution, not part of the problem.
It’s not hard, Washington!
Let’s keep nutrition standards high and teach public school kitchens how to cook food from scratch. Let’s show them how to take fresh vegetables and add seasoning and new cooking techniques to bring out their natural flavor. Let’s help them eliminate processed foods and let children eat as nature intended.
Give these districts the systems they need to efficiently and profitably run a scratch operation….recipes, suppliers, training, and technology. Give public schools the tools they need to elevate their programs and keep their standards high….you may be surprised at what they can do!