WebMD Town Hall: School Lunches
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Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDDo parents have the right to recommend to their kids' schools what kind of food the kid should eat?
Michelle ObamaYou know, I think parent involvement in schools at all levels is really critical, and I don't think that there's any parent here who should feel that they don't have the right to ask those kind of questions. I mean, we're fortunate, because we just got some wonderful new legislation passed that's going to improve school meals. Thirty-two million kids will be getting better meals at lunch and at breakfast. As a result, more proteins, more low fat, more fruits and vegetables. It's going to be a good thing for our schools. But how things are implemented on the ground in your school is really up to the parents and the students and the teachers. So it's really important for you to keep an eye on what's happening in your kids' lunchrooms. And you definitely should ask questions and sit down and talk to the principal and get other parents involved to make sure that you're satisfied with the choices that are being made for your kids. I mean, when you think about school lunches, and for many kids who are coming from families that are struggling, these school meals may be the main source of nutrition that they get. And if your kid is getting breakfast and lunch, that is more than half of their calorie intake coming from those school meals. So I think it's that makes it really important for parents to be involved and to take an active role, and don't let anyone intimidate you. I mean, you should be in the position to be able to ask those kind of questions. So I've been to many schools where the parents have taken an initiative. They've started that school garden that's used to feed the kids at lunch. Many parents use their own resources and expertise to add value to what's going on. So if you have something to add, do not hesitate to do it. Our kids need parents who are watching and concerned; school meals are critical to their overall development, and if there are any teachers out here, you know that if a child doesn't come to school ready to learn with a good set of nutrients in their system, they have a tough time focusing, and this their meals, their nutrition directly affects their success, not just in school, but in life. So we have to get them off to a good start. So this is a fight worth fighting for parents, and I would urge you all not to shy away from it.
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDSo don't feel intimidated, make your wishes known.
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDGet in there.I know a lot of parents who do feel like they shouldn't say anything.
Michelle ObamaRight. Well, people should know in, you know when the parents are involved, that affects everything at the school level. So don't ever be intimidated.
Jim KauffmanAnd if I could add a piece in that also, the Partnership for a Healthier America recently set some standards for, not just for what goes on in a school area, but also the after school time, and Mrs. Obama is the Honorary Chair of the Partnership for a Healthier America, and these standards are that when your child is involved in an after school activity, that water is the primary drink of choice, and that that's going to be available, and that any kind of snack is going to be some kind of fruit and vegetable or a healthy grain, and that there's going to be adequate physical activity that goes with that. So if you combine a great healthy lunch with school along with some good standards in the after school time, you're really starting to have an opportunity to make some significance inroads, too. So it's just a healthier atmosphere for kids.
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