After the jump: All the participants, all the pledges
As Let's Move! continues to develop, the number of businesses and non-profit entities that participate in the national campaign started by First Lady Michelle Obama will continue to grow. During the launch event at the White House today, Mrs. Obama announced some very important commitments for participation, particularly from major food companies, including Coke, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple, 7 Up, as well as Nestle Waters and Sunny Delight.
Major media companies have also signed on, including Nickelodeon, Walt Disney, NBC Universal, Warner Brothers, Viacom, and BET--a critical audience to reach, since child obesity impacts about half of all African American children. There are government commitments, too, from USDA and FDA, as well as HHS and Education. Below, the list of all the components and goals in Let's Move!. The wording is taken from White House guidance, with some editorial commentary added.
Empower Consumers: Changes in Labeling
1. Government: By the end of this year, the Food and Drug Administration will begin working with retailers and manufacturers to adopt new nutritionally sound and consumer friendly front-of-package labeling. This will put us on a path towards 65 million parents in America having easy access to the information needed to make healthy choices for their children.
2. Private Sector: The American Beverage Association announced that its member companies will voluntarily put a clear, uniform, front-of-pack calorie label on all of their cans, bottles, vending and fountain machines within two years. The label will reflect total calories per container in containers up to 20oz. in size. For containers greater than 20 oz., the label will reflect a 12 oz. serving size. While more work remains to be done, this marks an important first step in ensuring parents have the information they need to make healthier choices. Coke, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple, 7 Up, as well as Nestle Waters and Sunny Delight are the major companies on board.
Update: Within a few days after this announcement, Mrs. Obama was being accused of "selling out" to soda companies, and the labeling initiative was criticized by high-profile nutritionists as ineffective, because it requires only labeling for 12-ounce serving sizes. Thus, a litre of soda will have the number of calories for a 12-ounce serving displayed in a prominent place, which could make a consumer/parent believe that a litre of soda has only the calories of a 12-ounce serving.
Changes In Food and Agriculture
1. Voluntary Commitments from Major School Food Suppliers:
School food suppliers are taking important first steps to help meet the Healthier US School Challenge goal, which seeks to remove junk foods from schools and serve more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Major school food suppliers including
Sodexho, Chartwells School Dining Services, and Aramark have voluntarily committed to meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations within five years to decrease the amount of sugar, fat and salt in school meals; increase whole grains; and double the amount of produce they serve within 10 years. By the end of the 2010-2011 school year, they have committed to quadruple the number of the schools they serve that meet the HealthierUS School Challenge. There are currently 350 schools participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge.
2. Increase Farmers Markets: The President’s 2011 Budget proposes an additional $5 million investment in the Farmers Market Promotion Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture which provides grants to establish, and improve access to, farmers markets. Update: The grant application period for these funds opened on March 1, 2010, and runs until April 15, 2010.
3. Eliminate Food Deserts: As part of the President’s proposed FY 2011 budget, the Administration announced the new Healthy Food Financing Initiative – a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services that will invest $400 million a year to help bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places such as convenience stores and bodegas carry healthier food options. Through these initiatives and private sector engagement, the Administration will work to eliminate food deserts across the country within seven years.
Update: Joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Mrs. Obama traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 19 to formally launch this funding initiative, and to talk about food deserts. However, the fund requires Congressional approval, and if it doesn't get approved, there will be no funding... On Feb 24, the White House released a video about food deserts, starring the First Lady.
Provide Parents with an Rx for Healthier Living
1. Medical Community: The American Academy of Pediatrics, in collaboration with the broader medical community, will educate doctors and nurses across the country about obesity, ensure they regularly monitor children’s BMI, provide counseling for healthy eating early on, and, for the first time ever, will even write a prescription for parents laying out the simple things they can do to increase healthy eating and active play.
1. Private Sector: Major Media Companies: Walt Disney Company, NBC, Universal and Viacom have committed to join the First Lady’s effort and increase public awareness of the need to combat obesity through public service announcements (PSAs), special programming, and marketing. The Ad Council, Warner Brothers and Scholastic Media have also partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to run PSAs featuring top professional athletes, Scholastic Media’s Maya & Miguel, and Warner Brothers’ legendary Looney Tunes characters. The PSAs are currently not downloadable, but they can be viewed here at the website for Let's Move!.
2. Government: Revamp My Pyramid. To help people make healthier food and physical activity choices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will revamp the famous food pyramid. MyPyramid.gov is one of the most popular websites in the federal government, and a 2.0 version of the Web site will offer consumers a host of tools to help them put the Dietary Guidelines into practice.
For Let's Move!, USDA has also created the first-ever interactive database – the Food Environment Atlas – that maps healthy food environments at the local level across the country. It will help people identify the existence of food deserts, high incidences of diabetes, and other conditions in their communities. This information can be used by parents, educators, government and businesses to create change across the country. The Atlas is attempting to visualize the USDA's 2008 Household Food Security Report.
Update: The Atlas is a terrific idea, but it takes a PhD in computing to use.
3. LetsMove.gov: The website for the campaign, designed to help children parents, teachers, doctors, coaches, the non-profit and business communities and others understand the epidemic of childhood obesity and take steps to combat it. Dubbed by the Administration as a “one-stop” shopping website to provide helpful tips, step-by-step strategies for parents, and regular updates on how the federal government is working with partners to reach the national goal.
4. Professional Sports: Professional athletes from twelve leagues including the NFL, MLB, WNBA, and MLS have joined the First Lady on the Let’s Move campaign and will promote “60 Minutes of Play a Day” through sports clinics, public service announcements, and more to help reach the national goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation.
The Non-Profit Commitment
Partnership for a Healthier America: Core to the success of Let's Move is the recognition that government approaches alone will not solve this challenge. Achieving the goal will require engaging in partnerships with States, communities, and the non-profit and for-profit private sectors. To support this effort, several foundations are coming together to organize and fund a new central foundation – the Partnership for a Healthier America – to serve as a nonpartisan convener across the private, non-profit and public sectors to accelerate existing efforts addressing childhood obesity and to facilitate commitments towards the national goal of solving childhood obesity within a generation. The Partnership for a Healthier America is being created by a number of leading health care foundations and childhood obesity non-profits, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Alliance for Healthier Generation, Kaiser Permanente, and Nemours, and will seek to add new members in the days and months ahead. The website is at www.ahealthieramerica.org/.
Update: The website is live, but as of March 4, 2010, no new material had been added to the site.
Serving Healthier Food in Schools, Boosting Physical Activity
According to White Hosue and USDA guidance, "many children consume as many as half of their daily calories at school. As families work to ensure that kids eat right and have active play at home, we also need to ensure our kids have access to healthy meals in their schools." With more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever. Together with the private sector and the non-profit community, the following steps will be taken to get healthier food in the nation’s schools:
Reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act: The Administration is requesting an investment of an additional $10 billion over ten years starting in 2011 to improve the quality of the National School Lunch and Breakfast program, increase the number of kids participating, and ensure schools have the resources they need to make program changes, including training for school food service workers, upgraded kitchen equipment, and additional funding for meal reimbursements. With this investment, additional fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products will be served in our school cafeterias and an additional one million students will be served in the next five years.
Update: During the first week of March, both the House and Senate held hearings on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. There has been no movement to actually reauthorize it, however.
The goals for the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act:
The Administration hopes to reduce hunger, promote access, and improve the overall health and nutrition of children throughout the country. Specific priorities in this area include:
*Improve nutrition standards. Establishing improved nutrition standards for school meals based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and taking additional steps to ensure compliance with these standards.
*Increase access to meal programs. Providing tools to increase participation in the school nutrition programs, streamline applications, and eliminate gap periods. Universal access--in which all children at a given school will qualify if a certain percentage are below the poverty line--is under discussion.
*Increase education about healthy eating. Providing parents and students better information about school nutrition and meal quality. This could include posting calorie counts in cafeterias and on school websites, or in newsletters for parents.
*Establish standards for competitive foods sold in schools. What USDA refers to as "competitive foods" is what enlightened eaters and parents refer to as "junkfood." The Admin is seeking healthier foods for vending machines and a la carte lunch lines, by creating national baseline standards for all foods sold in elementary, middle, and high schools to ensure they contribute effectively to a healthy diet. It's unclear what these standards will be, but the First Lady and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack have both spoken out against non-nutritious foods.
*Serve more healthy food. USDA is seeking to get federal standards for school lunches in line with a recent Institute of Medicine report, which calls for more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low- and fat-free dairy products on school menus. The Admin is also willing to provide additional financial support in the form of reimbursement rate increases for schools that enhance nutrition and quality. EG, if a school is serving healthy food, it gets more funding. Financial incentives like this don't make a whole lot of sense; many schools serve food of poor quality because it's cheaper. The reward factor should be eliminated, and all schools should *only* be allowed to purchase healthy foods with federal dollars. This is an unlikely scenario, however.
*Increase physical activity. Strengthening school wellness policy implementation and promoting physical activity in schools. Many schools do not allow children PE time. Let's Move is encouraging children to get sixty minutes of activity each day, and hopes schools will have PE and recess available to students.
*Train people who prepare school meals. (Ed. note: There's a thought!) USDA hopes the new standards will ensure that child nutrition professionals have the skills to serve top-quality meals that are both healthful and appealing to their student customers. Currently, ripping plastic bags open and microwaving the food substances inside is the extent of many cafeteria workers' skill sets.
*Provide schools with better equipment. USDA believes that helping schools with financial assistance to purchase cooking equipment is needed to produce healthy, attractive meals. USDA recently made $25 million in funding available for states to purchase school kitchen equipment. But thousands of schools in the US don't even have a kitchen...
*Enhance food safety. Expanding the current requirements of the food safety program to all facilities where food is stored, prepared and served. USDA has come under fire for the last few months for being unable to track recalled food products when these are distributed to schools.
Double the number of schools participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge:
There are currently about 350 schools participating in this challenge nationwide. The HealthierUS School Challenge establishes rigorous standards for schools’ food quality, participation in meal programs, physical activity, and nutrition education – the key components that make for healthy and active kids – and provides recognition for schools that meet these standards. Over the next school year, the USDA, working with partners in schools and the private sector, will double the number of schools that meet the HealthierUS School Challenge and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that.
School Nutrition Association pledge: The School Nutrition Association (SNA), which represents food service workers in more than 75% of the nation’s schools, has joined the Let’s Move! campaign. Working with other education partners, SNA has committed to increasing education and awareness of the dangers of obesity among their members and the students they serve, and ensuring that the nutrition programs in 10,000 schools meet the Healthier US School Challenge standards over the next five years. Update: Mrs. Obama addressed the SNA at their winter meeting in Washington, DC on March 2, 2010. A post about her address is here.
School Leadership: Working with school food service providers and SNA, the National School Board Association, the Council of Great City Schools and the American Association of School Administrators Council have all embraced, and committed to meeting, the national Let’s Move! goal. The Council of Great City Schools has also has set a goal of having every urban school meet the Healthier US Schools gold standard within five years. The American Association of School Administrators has committed to ensuring that an additional 2,000 schools meet the challenge over the next two years. These combined efforts will touch 50 million students and their families in every school district in America.
Increasing Physical Activity: Let's Move! has identified 60 minutes as the ideal amount of of active play children should get each day. Yet, the average American child spends more than 7.5 hours a day watching TV and movies, using cell phones and computers, and playing video games, and only a third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity. Through public-private partnerships, and reforms of existing federal programs, the Administration will address this imbalance by:
Expanding and Modernizing the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge: In the coming weeks, the President will be naming new members to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, housed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The council will be charged with increasing participation in the President’s Challenge and with modernizing and expanding it, so that it is consistent with the latest research and science.
Doubling the Number of Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards: As part of the President’s Physical Fitness Council, the President will challenge both children and adults to commit to physical activity five days a week, for six weeks. As part of the First Lady’s commitment to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, the Council will double the number of children in the 2010-2011 school year who earn a “Presidential Active Lifestyle Award” for meeting this challenge.
Safe and Healthy Schools: The U.S. Department of Education will be working with Congress on the creation of a Safe and Healthy Schools fund as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Education Act this year. This fund will support schools with comprehensive strategies to improve their school environment, including efforts to get children physically active in and outside of school, and improve the quality and availability of physical education.
*Updated March 4, 2010.
*Photo of Mrs. Obama by Obama Foodorama