Quality of foods from vending machines, cafeterias, fund-raisers and other school venues

The following was sent in to all U.S. Congressional Representatives from Washington State.

Re: HR 2987, Sponsored by Representative Lynn Woolsey
Title: To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve the nutrition of students served under child nutrition programs.

This bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to work with National Academies Institute of Medicine to develop regulations regarding the nutritional quality of foods sold out of vending machines, a la carte lines, fund-raisers and other venues throughout school campuses, throughout the school day.

March 3, 2004

Dear Congressman:

I urge you to cosponsor this important legislation. Obesity is one of our greatest health challenges. During the past twenty years, rates of obesity have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents. Poor diets, along with lack of physical activity, also contribute to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and other serious illnesses. It is my hope that your colleagues in the Senate will do the same for the companion bill, SB1392, introduced by Senator Harkin.

Over-consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrition beverages and snack foods at schools is a key contributor. The Harkin/Woolsey bills would help ensure that foods sold outside of the school meal programs make a positive contribution to children's diets and do not undermine the national investment in school meals.

Soft drinks and junk foods are widely available to students in schools; 40% of elementary schools, three-quarters of middle/junior high schools, and virtually all senior high schools have vending machines, school stores, or snack bars — very little of it supportive of health. The most common items in these venues include so-called soft drinks, sports drinks, imitation fruit drinks (which the Center for Science in the Public Interest has dubbed "liquid candy"), plus chips, candy, and high fat, high sugar baked goods. These can be replaced with healthier options, and would represent a significant step toward addressing childhood obesity and related diseases.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request. Please let me know if you will cosponsor this important legislation to improve school foods and address childhood obesity.

Sincerely,

Tracy Wolpert
Chief Executive Officer
PCC Natural Markets

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