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|Release No. 0063.13|
|USDA Office of Communications, (202) 720-4623|
|Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Outlines USDA Efforts to Raise a Healthier Generation of Americans; Highlights Efforts to Improve School Meals|
WEST HARTFORD, Conn., April 5, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today discussed USDA efforts to improve school meals and outlined the need for a renewed commitment to improve childhood nutrition, which will lead to a healthier generation of Americans.
In remarks at Henry A. Wolcott Elementary School, Vilsack noted that America's students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The new standards ensure that the 32 million students who participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program have access to meals that contain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and are limited in fat, sodium and sugar.
"For many kids, including 300,000 children who eat school lunch here in Connecticut, healthy meals at school are vital to growing up healthy and strong," said Vilsack. "When children are given the tools they need to make healthy food choices it sets them up to do better in school, while creating generational change that will lead to a healthier Nation."
Secretary Vilsack noted the twin threats of childhood obesity and malnutrition to a healthier next generation. Over the course of the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has nearly tripled. Nearly one in three American children and adolescents today are overweight or obese. Some of those children come from low-income families, where access to healthy food choices and opportunities for physical activity can be limited. Nearly a third of our nation's young people are at risk for preventable diseases like type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Preventable diseases have serious consequences - which is why health experts tell us that our current generation of children may well have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Vilsack said that USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.
Vilsack noted that USDA continues working with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Let's Move! initiative, which is helping to promote healthy eating and physical activity while supporting the health of American families. Through the combined efforts of USDA and its partners, the United States is beginning to see progress and improvements in the health of our Nation's children.
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