Health education gets a federal boost


The school lunch program, which is up for an overhaul by Congress this year, is one sure area of focus, and the administration is working with legislators on how to revise it. There should be some extra money available: President Obama’s proposed budget calls for an additional $1 billion a year for child nutrition programs, and last year’s economic stimulus package included $500 million for one-time grants to help states and communities tackle smoking, obesity, and various preventable health problems.

Dora Rivas, president of the School Nutrition Association and director of food services for the Dallas public schools, said Mrs. Obama can be a “great motivator” for parents and kids. But, she said, schools need more federal dollars to work more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into lunches, and to keep up with the growing numbers of children who qualify for free or reduced-cost meals.

The first lady appealed to the nation’s governors on Feb. 20 for help in reducing child obesity, saying they have a moral and financial imperative to act.

“Let’s stop wringing our hands and talking about it and citing statistics,” she told governors at their winter meeting. “Let’s act. Let’s move. Let’s give our kids the future they deserve.”

Mrs. Obama sought support from leaders of both parties and made sure to respect the influence of the states.

“The way I see this, there is nothing Democratic or Republican, there is nothing liberal or conservative about wanting our kids to lead active, healthy lives,” she said. “There’s no place for politics when it comes to fighting childhood obesity. And I know all of you agree.”

In talking to the governors, she emphasized the importance of empowering parents who feel helpless because they don’t feel they have the time, money, or information to provide healthy meals or safe places to exercise.

Mindful that the governors face economic crises in their states, she said the obesity solutions don’t have to be expensive. She encouraged them to take steps such as providing access at school ball fields to the community at nights, or requiring the construction of sidewalks when new roads are being built.

“Comprehensive and coordinated doesn’t mean centralized,” she added. “I’ve spoken to so many experts on this issue, and not a single one of them has said that the solution is for the federal government to tell people what to do. That doesn’t work.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Links:

“Let’s Move”

Aaron Academy

Cerebellum Corp.

Core Learning Online


Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Next Generation Collaboration resource center. The ability to work together on group projects is seen as an increasingly important skill for the 21st-century workplace, and a growing number of schools are rewriting their curriculum to include opportunities for such collaboration as a result. Go to:

Next Generation Collaboration

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