Kids to Congress:

3/19/2010

Three nonprofits came together on Thursday, March 11, to hand-deliver 65 letters written by a diverse range of area students asking Congress to invest in their education and well-being with healthier school lunches to the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin .

Green City Market teamed up with Slow Food Chicago and Common Threads to deliver the letters and strike up a conversation with the Senator’s staff about how to give kids the school food they deserve. Kids are hungry for healthier options; their letters asked for “more broccoli,” “more fruit and healthy food at school,” and nutritious food that “gets you going at recess.”

Congress currently authorizes $2.68 for each school lunch served, but with childhood obesity and health care costs spiraling out of control, that level of funding no longer adds up. As Congress works to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, the organizations are backing the Time for Lunch campaign and asking for increased funding for healthier school lunches.

“All of us understand that this is not just about dollars—it’s about SENSE,” Slow Food Chicago Board Member Amy Cox said. “How can we collectively work together to make sensible changes for the sake of our future generation’s wellness?"

“An important part of Green City Market’s mission is to promote a healthier society through education and appreciation of local and fresh foods,” said Sara Gasbarra, Green City Market’s Children’s Program Chair. As part of its mission, Common Threads also works to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking.

“In partnering with like-minded organizations,” Gasbarra added, “we can take greater measures to ensure that all children have access to healthy, nutritious food in their schools.”

Together the nonprofit representatives requested the Senator’s support for at least $1 billion in additional funding for child nutrition; for stronger nutritional standards for food sold at schools; and for mandatory funding for school gardens and curriculum to teach healthy eating habits.

The meeting was positive and productive, and an exciting starting point for future discussions, Cox said.

“Funding is a critical part of the process of growing healthier kids,” she added. “Adequate funding—combined with the grassroots work that not-for-profit organizations, communities, schools, and local, small-scale food producers are doing to grow and prepare healthy food—fuels not only the stomachs of our youth, but sustains the health of our local economic system as well.”

To learn more about the Child Nutrition Act and the Time for Lunch campaign, please visit: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/campaign/time_for_lunch/.

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