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Let’s Move! in the Right Direction for Kids

Cross posted from the Let’s Move blog:

It has been one year since First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off her Let’s Move! initiative with the goal to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. The anniversary calls for a time to reflect on its vast contributions, but to also continue the important momentum.

Since the beginning, this administration has leveraged USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs to improve domestic nutrition. From adults who nourish their families with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, to children who wade through lunch and breakfast lines at school—our programs touch 1 in 4 Americans.

Although our primary goal is to prevent hunger, obesity is a dual challenge with serious health and economic implications.  Let’s Move! offers the opportunity to take a look at USDA nutrition programs and identify partnerships to tackle the multitude of health consequences associated with obesity.  A year later, we’re proud that we’ve made headway, with every sector of society stepping up for the nation’s next generation.

One of the first things we did was put together a coordinated government-wide Taskforce on Childhood Obesity.  Highlighting seventy recommendations on working together with all our partners, the report sharpens many key guidelines emphasized for child nutrition reauthorization.

Child nutrition reauthorization is at the heart of Let’s Move! President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law on December 13, reauthorizing our core child nutrition programs. Not only does the law upgrade standards for school meals, it helps expand program access to more kids—especially those in disadvantaged areas.

We’re moving quickly to implement the bill’s provisions, but our action doesn’t end there. We’ve undertaken many additional efforts and forged much progress. In particular, we’ve focused on schools, an environment ever so critical to helping kids build healthy lifestyles.

For that reason, we partnered with America’s culinary community, including White House Chef Sam Kass, to launch Chefs Move to Schools. The effort pairs chefs with schools to develop nutritious, tasty, and well-presented recipes for school meals.  In September we launched Recipes for Healthy Kids, a nationwide recipe contest that yielded 340 submissions and we’re excited to announce those winners in the coming months.

One of our most exciting partnerships is with the National Football League. Through our joint Fuel Up to Play 60 program, students devise strategies to get their fellow classmates healthier and moving at least 60 minutes every day.

We’ve also expanded existing programs. In 2004, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service established the HealthierUS School Challenge to reward schools for excellence in promoting nutrition and physical activity.  We are well on our way towards our goal of 1,250 schools by the end of June, with plans to add 1,000 in the next two years.

There is tremendous dedication to achieving the First Lady’s goals.  This past year, we’ve driven the conversation about how we eat, move, and grow and get our food. One year in, we’re well on a path to ensuring this generation of youngsters is healthier than their parents.

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