During the 2011 School Nutrition Association national convention now underway in Nashville, Tenn., USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton is highlighting the importance of USDA Foods and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Thornton has joined thousands of school nutrition professionals at the three-day event, which offers an opportunity for a dialogue on the administration’s efforts to ensure healthier meals in the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs.
Thornton says by working closely with our school nutrition professionals they are creating the healthy school environment needed to ensure our children are engaged and productive learners. With one in every three children in America at risk for preventable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease due to overweight and obesity, school nutrition improvements are an investment in improving our children’s future and are critical to helping them maintain optimal health.
"The School Nutrition Association is a strong partner in the Obama Administration's effort to ensure that our nation's school children are provided the most nutritious food possible," Thornton said. "For many children, the food they receive in school is their primary source of nutrition. By working closely with our school nutrition professionals, we are creating the healthy school environment needed to ensure our children are engaged and productive learners."
USDA purchases between 15% and 20% of the foods served in school meals which include fruits, vegetables and whole grains and foods that are lower in fat, salt and added sugars than ever before. School meals currently reach nearly 32 million children each school day nationwide, and many children consume as many as half their daily calories at school.
Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December 2010. The legislation, which reauthorized the Child Nutrition and WIC programs, will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school meals programs improve the nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Act is the legislative centerpiece of the Let's Move! initiative.