The longer I blog on The Lunch Tray, the more I become convinced that the keys to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic and improving kids’ health rest with kids themselves.
That is to say, we absolutely must do what we can to improve our children’s food environment — school food reform, improved competitive food, reining in children’s junk food advertising and more — but unless kids also understand why healthy eating is important and what healthy eating looks like, those efforts may not be effective. Junk food and fast food will always be available, tasty and cheap and, absent sufficient motivation to avoid them, they unfortunately represent the path of of least resistance for many Americans — children and adults alike.
That’s why I’m so excited about the new partnership between Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Food Day to bring food education and cooking classes into schools across America. I briefly told you about the Get Food Education in Every School initiative when it was announced in May, but now you can read more about it in this week’s Huffington Post editorial by Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (the folks behind Food day). Jacobson writes:
The anti-hunger group Feeding America estimates that elementary school students receive just 3.4 hours of nutrition education — actual education and not marketing — each year. Fewer than 25 percent of high school students take any family and consumer science classes, formerly known as home economics, and those classes are often the first to go when school budgets are trimmed. And parents have to shoulder some of the blame, when, in all too many harried households, “cooking” actually means “microwaving” or otherwise heating some well-preserved, factory-extruded, combination of flour, fat, salt, sugar, dyes, and other chemicals.
But just as we expect our schools to do the heavy lifting when it comes to teaching geography, algebra, physical education, and history, we should expect schools to teach children about food — where it comes from and how it affects our bodies and our health
In the campaign’s first year, organizers hope to raise awareness about the lack of food education and to build a broad coalition that will build support for food education at the local, state, and federal levels of government.
I’m proud to be one of the early supporters of this effort (you can read my thoughts on Jamie Oliver’s blog here), along with The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, American College of Lifestyle Medicine, American Medical Students Association, Edible Schoolyard Project, Center for Ecoliteracy, The Food Trust, National Association of Nutrition Professionals, Wellness in the Schools, and Nourish.
I’ll be participating in periodic conference calls with the campaign organizers and will share more information about Get Food Education in Every School throughout the coming year. And when school starts up again, I’ll also be sharing an interview with Michael Jacobson about the effort. If you have particular questions you’d like me to ask him, feel free to leave them in a comment below.
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