When the First Lady kicked off the Let’s Move! initiative last year, she said that her primary goal is to end childhood obesity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act gets to the heart of this effort by helping schools, parents, and communities make health and nutrition a priority for kids. Among the law’s many reforms, schools that participate in the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school lunch program will have to make drinking water available for free to students in the cafeteria during lunch. With this change we want to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our kids.
Schools must also offer at least two choices of low fat or fat free milk. These changes are consistent with what is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, just updated earlier this year. The Dietary Guidelines are a set of science-based recommendations that include many tips for improving health and wellness.
According to the Guidelines, kids (and adults) should consume fewer sugary drinks and drink more water. Making water readily accessible and free during lunch gives kids an added incentive to choose water over other beverages.
These are just two of many changes in the law that will improve kids’ access to healthy food and beverages in schools and in other places that participate in USDA’s child nutrition programs.
It’s important that child nutrition programs emphasize good eating habits if we want the next generation of children to be healthier than the last. Every day 32 million kids eat a school lunch and 12 million eat a school breakfast. For many children, school meals contain the most nutritious foods they eat all day. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a critical part of getting kids off to a healthy start.
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