Recognizing Lindsey Hewardby Senator Pat Roberts
Posted on 2013-01-28
ROBERTS. Mr. President, I want to thank a young Kansan for
sharing her thoughts and opinions regarding the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's implementation of new school meal requirements.
Ms. Lindsey Heward wrote to me last fall to express her and fellow Osage City High School students' frustrations with the amount of food they were getting to eat at lunch and their choices for food. She outlined several areas that the USDA could focus on to prevent obesity rather than solely school meal programs. Among her suggestions were to have the USDA encourage families to share meals together, develop budgeting skills for shoppers, and encourage nutritious meal planning. I would like to submit a copy of her letter into the Congressional Record.
After hearing from parents, school administrators, and students like Lindsey, I shared the concerns I was receiving with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. These comments and concerns were heard by the USDA and the administration ultimately provided additional flexibility in implementing changes to school meals.
I am still concerned USDA doesn't fully understand the estimated costs to schools and plate waste. I will continue to monitor the implementation of this rule, and its impact on schools in Kansas as well as the rest of the country. I look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack to continue to improve school nutrition while ensuring our students are adequately fed.
I ask that Ms. Lindsey Heward's letter be printed in the Record.
The letter follows.
[[Page S328]] Lindsey Heward, Osage City, Kansas, October 15, 2012.
Pat Roberts, U.S. Senator for Kansas, Frank Carlson Federal Building, Topeka, KS.
Dear Senator Roberts: There is a lot of talk going on in our community of Osage City, Kansas about all of the changes in our school food service program due to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. When the changes in the nutrition of the available vending machine items in our school took out pop, any type of sugar drinks, candy bars, cookies, most chips, pastries, etc., I could agree with that. A lot of those items aren't going to help a student in their day; it's not going to be what gives them the fuel they need. I didn't have a problem with that because the lunches that we were having always satisfied me for the day, it would actually get me through after school practice until supper time. But now that the school lunch program has been greatly altered, the majority of the students, especially in the high school, are not receiving enough calories to sustain them through school, after school practices, and events.
What really frustrates me is that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is not correctly addressing the reduction of our nation's obesity rate. What is not being addressed is education of the parents who are the main consumers of the family's grocery items or parents modeling healthy eating habits. As an employee of Jerry's Thriftway, this is something that I witness daily. I especially see the purchasing of unhealthy food choices by welfare recipients when using their Vision cards. For example, this last Saturday, a customer was at my check-out line with a cart of hot dogs, chips, pizza, pop, and a lot of frozen items loaded with preservatives. These items were purchased with funds provided by our tax payers. It is obvious that this parent does not go home to prepare a healthy meal for her children and she certainly doesn't model healthy eating habits. This is something that occurs regularly throughout my six hour shift. No matter what takes place at school, it is not changing the way these parents are providing (through somebody else's money) for their children's meals. I fear that there isn't even a family meal time in those homes, but rather a time to binge on junk food throughout the evenings or on weekends. This is where nutrition needs to change to reduce the obesity in our nation, not by unrealistically restricting our school breakfast and lunch program.
Instead of focusing on school meal programs, I strongly feel that it's time to focus on the following: 1. Creating a greater work ethic in all citizens 2. Developing budgeting skills for shoppers 3. Nutritious meal planning 4. Food preparation skills 5. Valuing family togetherness at the dinner table 6. Family physical fitness The family is the basic unit in every community. Let's start with changes in the daily life of families . . . that's the ground level. Once that happens, then we will see true, positive changes in the health of our nation.
I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on my suggestions of how this change needs to start with each family instead of through the restricted school meal service. Do you have any ideas on how my concerns can be put into action to make real, meaningful change happen? Sincerely yours, Lindsey Heward, Osage City High School Senior.