As soon as you enter the front doors, it is clear that nutrition and health are at the forefront of life at Bruce-Monroe Elementary in Washington, D.C. That message was unmistakable on Thursday, April 28, when I visited the dual-language school to celebrate their Gold Level of Distinction honor in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge. But more importantly, the event represented a broader commitment to the welfare of the kids we met, and to our nation’s next great generation.
Improving child nutrition is not easy, especially in the Nation’s capital, where many of the area’s children live in poverty. Here, the mostly Hispanic students at the school are part of a population nationwide that has experienced a dramatic increase in obesity rates.
Studies show that obese children and adolescents are at risk for health problems during their youth and as adults. Obese kids are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease than are other children and adolescents. Thankfully, the school understands this dilemma, and has been instrumental in creating real-world solutions.
Bruce-Monroe is just one of many schools across the country addressing similar nutritional challenges. That is why the Food and Nutrition Service is working to enhance USDA’s child nutrition programs on behalf of 32 million kids nationwide. Efforts like First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative are drawing much-deserved attention to the obesity epidemic and have elevated the conversation on nutrition and health in our country.
The school’s unwavering commitment, coupled with the support from their parents, guardians and community, make longer, healthier lives more attainable for these very special children. By assuming a leadership role in schools throughout the District, they’ve set an important precedent for children here in Washington and across the nation.