America's first lady is now America's lunch lady. Michelle Obama laid the basic foundation for her Let's Move campaign by outlining 70 recommendations made by an expert panel. Her vision is that these suggestions will help reduce the rate of obesity in American children to 5-percent by 2030 (it's currently around 30-percent). Although the program is advisory in nature, it contains some very concrete recommendations for parents, children and schools that she hopes will promote better eating and more activity in schools and at home.
- Let's Move establishes the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge Program, which encourages schools, and the private vendors who supply their foods, to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables to children while reducing the prominence of sugary snacks. The First Lady is also using her program to support Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and an increase in government funding to support healthier school lunches.
- Not included in the campaign is an often proposed tax on sugary sodas. Multiple recent scientific studies have showcased the dangers of the ever-present soda and have called for them to be removed from government-funded programs like public school lunches and the food stamp program. While this proposal is vehemently opposed by the beverage industry and Let's Move does not tackle this controversial issue, Pepsi and Coke have agreed to stop selling their full-calorie soft drinks in schools. Beyond that, Pepsi has vowed to remove all full-calorie sodas from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012.
- The Let's Move campaign also fails to address the widespread problems of conventional agriculture and its effects on children's health. A recent study, for instance, links pesticide use to the spread of ADHD in school-aged children. If not from the White House, those concerns are being addressed by the Center for Food and Justice Farm to School lunch program which accesses local and organic foods for schools.
- Soft recommendations from the White House might not have as much clout as seeing the cold, hard reality of what happens behind the scenes on America's farms. This video of cows being brutalized at a family dairy farm in Ohio, is so explicit that YouTube won't let you view it unless you affirm you're over 18!
- In other news, the BP oil spill has threatened one of the only sources of sustainable shrimp in the world. Check out the story and video from the NRDC about how one Native American family's livelihood and legacy has been destroyed. About 30 percent of the U.S. supply of seafood comes from the Gulf, and prices of shrimp are expected to increase by over 50-percent.
So what will be accomplished by Let's Move? The initiative itself will not solve these problems. People who care about access to healthy food for children and themselves must work individually and on a collective basis. Keep yourself updated on these issues by following HeadCount on Twitter or checking out our Food and Farm Policy Issue page. Email your Senators and Congressional representative with your opinions via our legislative action page. Tell them whether or not you support Let's Move.