Healthy Food Means Healthy Kids

Today is a great day for children across this country.

This morning, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law.

As a mother, I know it’s important for children to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  As a Member of Congress, I was proud to vote for this legislation that will put these healthier, more nutritious foods in the schools throughout my congressional district and our country. 

Our children are currently fighting two epidemics in this country: hunger and obesity.  Today, over 17 million children live in food insecure households – that is, homes with a limited ability to secure nutritionally adequate and safe foods – and one out of every three children in America is considered overweight or obese.  While these two conditions seem to conflict one another, they often manifest in the same homes and in the same children.

We must do everything we can to fight these mounting problems.

That’s why the President’s signature and commitment today are so important to our children and their future well-being.  The law enacted today contains the most significant improvements to child nutrition programs in more than 30 years.  There are updates to the essential programs for women, infants, and children and the National School Lunch Program, which more than 31 million children utilize across the country.

The new law does much more than provide long overdue updates to these health and nutrition programs.  It helps communities establish local farm to school networks and create school gardens.  This is good for student health and our local economies, and it will be a great teaching tool.  Students will be able to comprehensively examine everything from biology, to health, to math and business in a first hand way. Learning by doing will teach our children about their core curriculum, but also how to make healthy choices so that they can live long, productive lives.

Addressing these problems now, at an early age, will pay dividends in the long run.  Far too often, unhealthy children and teenagers turn into unhealthy adults, many times, with unhealthy children of their own.  In order to break this cycle, we need to start our children off with healthy meals and ensure they learn about proper nutrition in school.  Today, when he signed our bill into law, the President went a long way towards achieving these first steps.

At the bill signing, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “While we may sometimes have our differences, we can all agree that in the United States of America, no child should go to school hungry.”  The First Lady is correct -- certainly our own children deserve nothing less than the best America produces.

Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez represents the 39th Congressional District of California.

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