Keeping kids healthy!
With the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act set to soon expire, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was joined by elected officials and local children at the Sunset Park Recreation Center on Tuesday, August 11 to discuss the fight to keep youngsters eating free and healthy meals, both at school and during the summer months.
The act was signed in December of 2010, ensuring that nutritional and free meals would be provided in school cafeterias.
After a playful discussion with the children in attendance about eating fruits and vegetables, Gillibrand explained the current dilemma regarding the possible future of food in school cafeterias.
“Our nutrition bill is set to expire,” Gillibrand explained to the children. “If Congress doesn’t reauthorize this bill by September, all standards that ensure that our kids have fresh fruits and vegetables will be at risk.”
Gillibrand expressed that putting an end to the act would be harmful on several fronts. “Local farmers are going to lose out on a large part of the global market,” she added. “And we can’t let Washington interfere with kids and their access to nutrition.”
In addition, the senator discussed the significance of expanding the Summer Meals Program. “We want to make sure that when you’re not in school, you have access to free lunches during summer. If you’re going to camp, you can get breakfast or lunch or if parents are working really late you can also get dinner,” she said. “Expanding summer food service programs for millions of kids, so that they’re eligible, would mean less red tape so that they can get access to the food. No child should have to go without a healthy meal.”
“I hope one day every kid will have an opportunity to have a good meal any day of the year,” added Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.
CEO of the United Way of New York City (UWNYC), Sheena Wright, was also in attendance to show support for Gillibrand’s cause. “What we know in this city is that good food costs more, bad food costs less and low-income communities don’t have a choice,” she said. “We need to make sure communities have access to the healthy food they need to thrive. This bill, which puts vital resources dollars into low-income families’ budgets so that they can get access to food over the summer months, make significance difference.”
According to Gillibrand, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act also introduced new physical activity standards, updated school nutrition standards, and encouraged farm-to-school initiatives and other obesity reducing programs.