USDA Secy. Tom Vilsack tjv_cnr.wmv

Uploaded by usda on 24.02.2010

It's fairly clear that we need to do a better job of expanding
access to the program so that more of our youngsters
get the benefit of school breakfast and school lunch.
It's also clear that we have to improve the quality
of the meals that are being served to the youngsters,
so that they get a healthy, nutritious meal during the day.
For many youngsters this may be the only nutritious
meal that they have access to and so it's very,
very important that we do a better job.
It's also, I think, important for us to recognize
that it isn't just about the school nutrition programs,
it's also about working, during those days and months
when school's not in session, providing new
and innovative and creative ways to make sure
that youngsters are well fed. This is important
to the country because the reality is if you're hungry,
that you're going to have a tough time
concentrating on your studies.
And if you're overweight, you're going to be conscious
of that and it's going to make it more difficult
for you to reach your fullest potential, so this
is about educational achievement as well.
One way we can do that is by taking a look at the dietary
guidelines that have been established,
and making sure that our meals parallel those guidelines.
What we need to do is focus on fruits and vegetables
and low-fat dairy, reducing the salt
and the sugar. So ways in which we can encourage
schools to align those meals with those guidelines
and making sure that they are as healthy and
nutritious as possible is extremely important.
It isn't just enough to eat well.
I think it is important for our youngsters
to have more physical activity.
Far too few of our schools make recess and physical
activity part of the school day. We have partnered
with the National Dairy Council, with the NFL
in their "Fuel Up for Play 60" program,
which is focused on encouraging 60 minutes
of active play and physical activity
every single day for our youngsters. I think if you
combine wholesome food in the vending machines,
quality food in the school breakfast and school lunch
programs with a physical activity program
and physical education, I think you're going to have
a good combination for a much healthier school environment.
Fresh food coming from the local community I think
is a more nutritious option for schools if they can,
if they can find it. We want to encourage repopulation
of rural communities, we want to encourage
thriving rural communities, we want to encourage communities
that have economic activity. If we help
link local producers with local consumers,
schools for example, we create new markets
for those producers and that creates new income
opportunities and it helps the community economically,
so it's better for the children and
it's better for the community.
We cannot afford as a nation
to see a third of our youngsters move into their adult
years with the onset of diabetes and heart disease
and premature death, not being able to reach their
fullest potential. And this is really about
a country that needs to be at its best.
We're in a competition, we need to continue
to be number one, in order to be number one
our youngsters have to be well educated.
For them to be well educated they've got
to feel good about themselves and they have to be well fed
and they have to have nutritious food. And they have
to be physically active and they've got
to be physically strong. The interesting
thing about the school lunch and school breakfast
program is that the start of this program
really was a result of the military's concern,
back immediately after World War II, about the status
of whether or not we'd have enough young people,
strong young people to be able to serve in uniform.
Well, every single one of those youngsters
in every classroom across the country
is serving their country. And to be the best student
they can be, we have to make sure we equip them
to be the best students they can be.
And that, part of that is nutrition. And if we don't
invest now, we will surely pay a dear cost later.