The following is a statement by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, regarding the signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act:
Today marks a major step forward in efforts to prevent both childhood obesity and hunger among our nation’s children. The signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law is a long-awaited victory for the 31 million students who participate in federal school meal programs. By giving the USDA the authority to update standards for all foods and beverages in schools, this new law says unhealthy foods have no place in our nation’s schools. And schools finally will have more resources to serve nutritious and appealing meals.
But the work doesn’t stop here. Next month, the USDA will propose updates to nutrition standards for school meals and soon will be tasked with updating standards for all other foods served and sold in school—through à la carte lines, school stores and vending machines. The new USDA standards should align with the Institute of Medicine guidelines and be as strong as possible to hold up the intent of the new law.
Kids consume more than half of their daily calories at school. We must take every opportunity afforded by this new law to improve the quality of meals, snacks and drinks available to students. Through rigorous enforcement of this important legislation we can help schools continue the progress our country is making to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic and improve the health and well-being of all of our children.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A.
President and CEO