Today I joined the students of Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, DC as we witnessed President Barack Obama signing into law the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, boosting the health, quality and wellness of school nutrition.
Congress hasn’t made a significant increase to funding for school nutrition since their parents were in elementary school – 30 years ago! I am so excited about this legislation because it paves the way for the most significant improvement to school lunches and childhood nutrition in three decades. Not to mention 31 million children will benefit.
Sodexo has long supported USDA programs and is a strong partner in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to end childhood obesity in this generation. The well being of our nation’s students is a top priority for us. Sodexo understands the link between student health, academic performance and lifelong success.
We make our long-term commitments to our nation’s young come to life in a number of ways, which are reinforced in the new law. For example, we are working with our suppliers to look for new ways to make food healthier, but yet still appealing to kids. That means reducing sodium and fat, and increasing whole grain consumption while still producing food kids will eat – remember it’s not nutritious if they’re not eating it.
We at Sodexo are also finding ways to increase physical activity, educate kids about healthy eating and fighting the root causes of hunger – all outside school cafeterias. Some of our most innovative programs include teaching kids to cook, which fosters lifelong good nutrition. Our A to Z Salad Bar exposes students to healthy and exciting new flavors. Our backpack and summer feeding programs ensure that students at risk of hunger are nourished even when school is closed.
But perhaps the most important role we can play is to increase students’ access to meal programs. Several studies tell us that academic success is fueled by good nutrition. We encourage parents to visit the school meal information page to learn more. If you are eligible, sign up and give your child the best chance at success.
I wrote about several programs geared toward student success and would love to hear your stories of educational achievement through better nutrition or physical activity.
Lorna Donatone is chief operating officer and president of the Education Segment for Sodexo.