Thursday, September 23, 2010 by Lee Mannering
When it comes to child nutrition, everyone has a role to play
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, DC, organized by the Consumer Federation of America and Grocery Manufacturers Association. This year, the conference focused on child nutrition and supplemental nutrition programs. Kicking off the event was White House chef and senior policy advisor of health food initiatives Sam Kass. He provided on overview of the “Let’s Move” campaign, along with an update on the People’s Garden and other programs.
During a question-and-answer session, he was asked about how to talk to parents about nutrition and healthful food choices. I found his response interesting. He said that a family’s relationship to food is a very personal thing due to cultural and personal tastes; taking a “good” food versus “bad” approach doesn’t work because of the inferred judgment on an individual’s choices. If they choose a “bad” food, does that make them a “bad” person? Instead, Kass recommended getting kids engaged and energized because they have the power to change choices and lifestyles. He advised that food marketers tap into the influence kids have in asking for foods from their parents.
Other topics discussed included the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP – previously known as the food stamps program) and how the caseload has increased on this entitlement program during the past three years in correlation with the unemployment rate.
On the legislative front, Representative Marcia Fudge (11th – Ohio) shared that she will soon introduce the Fit for L.I.F.E. Act of 2010. This bill seeks to improve children’s health through a number of programs (which has implications for the produce industry). I had a chance to talk briefly to her staff after the Congresswoman’s presentation and they told me that the bill will create a grant program to promote partnerships between local governments and local convenience stores near schools to increase fruit and vegetable offerings. And, there’s a component that will create mobile farmers markets through purchasing or rehabilitating old school buses to transport fresh produce from local farms to schools and convenience stores. We’ll keep an eye on this bill as it moves forward.
In this post’s headline, I said that everyone has a role to play. As a member of the produce industry, your voice needs to be heard to get the child nutrition reauthorization bill passed. Child nutrition programs are set to expire on September 30. Get involved and visit the PMA Advocacy Action Center to send a message to the House of Representatives to help get this important bill passed. Do it now, as the House may be voting today or Friday!