At this week's New York Times Food Conference Mark Bittman said something that is both obvious and absolutely crucial at the same time. He said "if you want healthy adults, you have to have healthy children." He couldn't be more right. The food we feed our children when they are young and the food habits we help them develop impact them for the rest of their lives.
So it is particularly good and timely news that this week two national leaders on school meals and children's health announced an innovative new partnership aimed at making our children healthier.
The Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), a nonprofit coalition of the largest school districts in the United States that includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas, and Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (the Alliance), founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity, announced that they will partner together to improve school meals.
Both USFA and the Alliance are committed to helping schools serve children healthy, balanced meals that are low in saturated fat, sugar and sodium and include fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy and whole grains. Leveraging combined meal-related budgets totaling over $3 billion from the USFA school districts and the districts that work with the Alliance, this partnership will drive innovative market solutions that are nutritionally wholesome, ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible. As a result, 30 million students in over 5,000 school districts will have the opportunity to access high quality food and products at more competitive prices.
NRDC works closely with USFA--and we have secured some real victories for health and the environment over the last few years. In December of this last year, all six USFA districts committed to purchasing chicken raised without the use of antibiotics--an announcement that preceded other similar commitments by McDonalds and others! And in April of this year, USFA rolled out compostable plates taking 225 million polystyrene trays out of landfills across the country. Already we have seen what leaders these organizations can be on healthy food--and they will be even more impactful together.
So congratulations to USFA and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for this groundbreaking partnership! And let's keep up the momentum on healthy school meals!