Editor's note: The following is a letter to Stratford Patch columnist Debi Syrowsky from US Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Dear Ms. Syrowsky,
Thank you for your thoughtful message regarding the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed rule to update the nutrition guidelines for school lunches. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, on January 13, 2011, USDA published a proposed rule to update the nutrition guidelines for school lunches served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs have been in existence for decades and since their inception, these two programs have provided children with healthy and nutritious meals at school.
Over time, these programs have adapted to meet the needs of school-aged children, and have been improved as new nutritional data and guidelines have been established.
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious health threats our nation faces. Nearly 32 percent of children ages 6 to 19 years old are overweight or obese and are at a greater risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other diseases. Preventive efforts, like exercise and eating well, will do much to make our nation healthier and will save health care costs in the long run.
USDA’s proposed rule would improve nutrition standards for school lunches that are served to nearly 32 million children every day. These changes include the addition of more fruits, vegetables, fat-free and low-fat milk, and whole grains to school lunches. Additionally, school lunches would be required to contain less sodium, saturated fat, calories, and trans fats.
Providing healthy school meals to our children is a necessity. For too long, students have not had the option to eat the healthy meals they need while at school. I am supportive of any efforts that work to improve the quality of food our children eat.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts. If I have the opportunity to vote on legislation related to childhood obesity, or school lunches, I will be sure to keep your views in mind.
Click here to read the specifics of the USDA's proposed rule, which looks to revise the meal patterns and nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program to align them with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as required by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. The act is attached to this article as a PDF.