With the new school year starting, parents’ to-do lists are filled with shopping for school clothes, school supplies and school food. That’s right — school food!
In past years, our nation’s schools were used by the USDA as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. It is neither a surprise nor coincidence that one-third of our children have become overweight or obese. Such dietary mistakes at an early age become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Then came President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, requiring double the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. The guidelines are supported by 86 percent of Americans.
Most U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options. More than 120 schools — including the entire school districts of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, and San Diego — have implemented Meatless Monday. Some schools have dropped meat from their menu altogether.
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As parents, we need to involve our own children and school cafeteria managers in promoting healthy, plant-based foods in our own schools.
Kyle Timberman, Kennewick