New Yorkers, Take Action Today to Feed Our Children Better Food, New York Coalition for Healthy School Food Urges

Art_new_york_coalition_logo425onwhiTimely message — New Yorkers, take action today

I just received the following urgent appeal from the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (NYCHSF), a statewide nonprofit group that works to improve the health and well-being of New York’s students by advocating for healthy plant-based foods, farm-to-school programs (including organic where possible), the elimination of unhealthy competitive foods in all areas of the school (not just the cafeteria), comprehensive nutrition policy, and education to create food- and health-literate students.

The organization has been closely following the bills up for vote so rather than summarize the contents of their urgent memo, I’m including it in in its entirety.

Please note that the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food recommends that you take action today. FYI, the organization’s suggestions clearly do still include some sugar (not my preference but I think what they’re suggesting is more realistic).

Also, please forward this to all your friends, relatives, colleagues, etc. who live in New York so that they, too, can take a stand.

June 4, 2007

URGENT ACTION ALERT UPDATE!! TAKE ACTION TODAY

Dear NYCHSF Supporters,

THERE IS NO TIME TO LOSE! Two different bills for nutrition standards in schools have now passed in the NYS Senate (S.5892) and Assembly (A.8698) – these are not the Governor’s bill. Today the bills go to Conference Committee where the Senate and Assembly will try to come up with a compromise bill that both can support, AND OUR CHILDREN WILL HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE RESULT FOR YEARS TO COME!

PLEASE MAKE 5 VERY IMPORTANT PHONE CALLS IMMEDIATELY. TELL THEM THE FOLLOWING:
THE GOVERNOR’S BILL, WITH AMENDMENTS (below), IS SUPERIOR TO WHAT BOTH HOUSES HAVE PASSED, AND THAT IT IS THEIR DUTY TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR THE CHILDREN AND NOT TO BE INFLUENCED BY THE FOOD INDUSTRY.

Politely, but firmly let them know you support the Governor’s Healthy Schools Act (A.8642) WITH proposed amendments (see amendments, below), and make sure to share this list with the person you speak to in each office – it is crucial that they understand what the bill needs to make it acceptable.

CALL IMMEDIATELY – Calls must be made as early on Monday as possible:

After calling, tell the person that you speak with that you will be emailing the recommended amendments. But do not email only, call first!

PLEASE make these calls now. Let’s show the New York state elected officials that NYCHSF has a powerful voice, one that is louder, and stronger, and more determined than the food industry lobbyists!!! Exercise your democratic rights. We absolutely can not let the powerful food industry determine food policy, nor our children’s future, so PLEASE make your calls right away.

Thank you for your support,

Amie Hamlin
Executive Director

Support Governor Spitzer’s Bill (A.8642) with these Amendments:

Follow the link below to read the suggestions, please.

1. Tighten Language

  • Close large potential loophole on p3, line 43 that exempts all foods and beverages offered “in order to raise funds for school activities.”
  • Require that all nutrition standards for school districts and regulations regarding food policy take effect immediately (to prevent districts from signing new long term contracts with food and beverage companies)
  • Require that schools shall make available to the Department, parents and students, upon request, documentation setting forth the ingredients and nutrients of any food item sold, served or offered.
  • BMI’s should not be reported to parents until such time that all families can have referrals and access to support services such as NYS Certified Dietitian Nutritionists, Registered Dietitians, and/or a community based program that addresses overweight/obesity.
  • If Local Wellness Policies are addressed in the bill, it should be mandated that NYS Certified Dietitian Nutritionists or Registered Dietitians be on the committee since they are the nutrition experts.

2. Nutrition Standards

  • Mandate that only fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes be available outside of the school meal program.
  • Require that fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grains be available at each meal
  • Mandate no artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or artificial sweeteners
  • Mandate that foods/beverages contain no added transfats, ie, the ingredients list shall not contain any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Currently up to ½ gram would be allowed based on the current labeling law and this is not acceptable.
  • Mandate that no foods/beverages contain any high fructose corn syrup
  • Mandate that foods/beverages with added sugars should be limited to 10 grams per serving or less
  • Require that snack items meet a sodium content limit of 200 mg or less per package (regardless of number of servings) or 480 mg or less per entrée
  • Require that meals contain no more than 5 milligrams saturated fat total per meal.
  • Mandate that plain potable water is available throughout the school day at no cost to students
  • Mandate that schools will offer during lunch period vegetables and entrees which are not fried, pre or post procurement
  • Rewrite plant-based entrée requirement to read “as its primary component, one or more of the following: legumes (beans or bean products, including soy or lentils), Seitan (wheat protein), nuts, and/or seeds or their butters. Such an entrée will contain no cholesterol and will be part of a meal containing no more than 5 grams of saturated fat in total.” Without this provision, we will see entrees containing cheese – the primary source of saturated fat in school menus – on the menu every day.
  • Require that yogurt should contain no more than 30 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving (IOM recommendation), 
  • Mandate that fruits shall be packed in their own juices or water

3. Mandate key elements rather than leaving them to the discretion of the school district wellness committees

  • Mandate the use of skim or low fat milk (1%)
  • Prohibit the use of food or beverages as a reward or punishment
  • Require schools to provide students with a minimum of 20 minutes to eat breakfast and thirty minutes to eat lunch, and that lunch meals occur between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm to prevent students from having lunch too early or late in the day
  • Require schools to provide students in eighth grade and under a recess period involving physical activity of up to 30 consecutive minutes on each day when there is no physical education class
  • Prohibit schools from disciplining a student by taking away such recess period
  • Require the establishment and implementation of nutrition education competencies for K-12

4. Schools need increased funding for school food and nutrition programs if there is to be accountability for achieving strong nutrition standards. Current reimbursements are not enough and an investment in children now will result in lower medical costs to the state later.

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