WASHINGTON— Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten urging Congress to reject efforts to abandon healthy nutrition standards for school meals. AFT's letter to Congress.
"For far too many children, the only reliable meal they receive is at school. It's deeply disturbing that Republicans in Congress are actually working to abandon our obligation to ensure children have nutritious meals at school that keep them healthy and ready to learn. AFT members join first lady Michelle Obama, parents, other educators and advocates in calling on members of Congress to reject this harmful effort.
"The impact of healthy, nutritious school meals reaches far beyond the cafeteria—reducing obesity, increasing attendance, and giving kids the fuel they need to stay focused and engaged in the classroom and lead active lives once the bell rings. Why are some in Congress trying to take that away from kids?
"AFT members across the country are on the frontlines of making school lunches more nutritious and healthy—from our early support of these nutrition standards when they were developed, to our work to switch to homemade, healthy meals in places like Syracuse and Denver; to galvanize community support in Oklahoma for replacing frozen, prepackaged food with fresh, healthy meals; to incorporate urban gardening, healthy food choices and nutrition into the curriculum in Baltimore; and to create school gardens across the country. Many of these programs actually engage children in making healthy food choices so they can also make those choices outside of school. Teachers are also paying out of their own pockets to ensure their students don't go hungry—the average teacher spends $37 a month on food for students.
"Instead of spending time slashing nutrition standards that parents, students, educators and communities wholeheartedly support and have already worked to incorporate in their schools, these members of Congress should be working to expand school and summer meal programs and increase investments in the things that actually help kids learn and grow—putting teachers back in the classroom and bringing back art, music, recess and the sciences to our schools; ensuring every school has full-time nurses and guidance counselors; ending the testing fixation; and providing services and supports to children and families."