Posted by: Audiegrl
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to the School Nutrition Association Legislative Action Conference in Washington, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
“For decades, we’ve been looking to you for help in achieving our nation’s most urgent priorities
,” credited First Lady Michelle Obama, addressing more than 750 attendees of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA)
annual Legislative Action Conference, being held this week in Washington, D.C.
The First Lady acknowledged that efforts and achievements of the nation’s school nutrition professionals go largely unrecognized and unacknowledged by many. “There are not a lot of headlines about (how) school meals may be the only meals many children get all day
,” she noted. “And most people don’t know how the cafeteria is one of the most important classrooms in the school
Mrs. Obama welcomed the partnership of SNA and its 50,000 members in joining her newly launched “Let’s Move” initiative to address childhood obesity.
“The School Nutrition Association is honored to have First Lady Michelle Obama recognize the efforts of our school nutrition professionals, proud partners of the Let’s Move campaign. Preparing healthy well-balanced school meals while meeting federal nutrition standards and staying within budget is a tremendous challenge for our cash-strapped school districts,” noted SNA President Dora Rivas, MS, RD, SNS, who also serves as Executive Director of Child Nutrition Services for Dallas (Texas) Independent School District.
“This week, SNA is calling on Congress to follow the President and First Lady’s lead and provide school nutrition programs with critical funds for healthy school meals,” continued Rivas. “For the 31 million children who eat school lunch each day, the upcoming re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act is much more than just another congressional debate. It means nutrition for a hungry child, fuel for a successful school day, a healthy solution for a busy parent and a chance for children to learn about balanced meals and establish lifelong positive eating habits.”
In her address, the First Lady affirmed her understanding and support of many of SNA’s top priorities, including the need for adequate funding, reducing paperwork that presents obstacles to participation, improving the quality of foods served, providing equipment support and ensuring training for school nutrition professionals.
Mrs. Obama also spoke on the intent of the Let’s Move campaign to eliminate all “food deserts”—communities without access to a supermarket—within seven years. She cited statistics that almost one-quarter of the nation’s population lives in such areas, purchasing foods from gas stations and convenience stores. Children can have “the most delicious healthy school lunches, but it won’t help if their families don’t have access to a supermarket.”
She also cited the importance of physical activity as a tent pole in successfully addressing obesity concerns. “We know that healthy eating is only half the battle,” she noted.
The First Lady was extraordinarily complimentary of the efforts of school nutrition professionals working in schools and districts across the country. “You don’t just shape the future of individual students—you shape the future of America,” said Mrs. Obama. “For decades, we have looked to you for help in achieving our nation’s most urgent priorities. Let’s rally the country around a single, ambitious goal that kids born today reach a healthy weight by the time they become adults.”
“I am thrilled that you have agreed to work with us to meet this goal,” the First Lady concluded. “We are going to need everything you’ve got. We will need your ideas—both big and small. Let’s be clear, the only way we’re going to solve [the problem of child obesity] is by working together.”
Full remarks by the First Lady
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