Give Now

Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

D.C. Council Votes For Local Food, More Exercise For School Kids

The D.C. Council approved a measure to provide students healthier food and more exercise, but USDA regulations and opponents of a soda tax present obstacles.

Kids eating margarine sandwiches

Photo: Nickolas Muray

The Healthy Schools Act of 2010 recently passed by the Washington, D.C. council will increase local, fresh and organic fruits and vegetables in school lunches while banning trans fats and limiting sodium and saturated fats. There's still debate on how to fund it, though.

Last week the Washington, D.C. City Council unanimously approved the Healthy Schools Act of 2010. The act, sponsored by Councilor Mary Cheh, will provide more fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and even local food from Maryland and Virginia farms to the District’s 71,000 public and charter school students.

The legislation will also ban trans fats in food served in schools, limit sodium and saturated fats, make breakfast free for all students and triple the amount of time each kid spends exercising during the school day.

Funding A Possible Problem

Supporters applaud these new steps, but the Washington, D.C. councilors and school officials are still arguing about how to fund the new initiatives.

One possible solution, a one-cent-per-ounce tax on non-diet soda sold in Washington, D.C., is opposed by some members of the council because they believe it would be unpopular with the general population.

Cheh’s bill was also watered down when the USDA asked her to remove wording that mandated maximum calorie limits on school meals. Currently the USDA has calorie minimums on its meals, a leftover relic of the days during the Depression when food was scarce and there was no childhood obesity epidemic.

The Washington Post reports that USDA officials are trying to update the calorie standards for school lunches, but also are busy trying to update the “Dietary Guidelines for All Americans,” an instrument used to help create school lunch guidelines.

The bill is still awaiting the signature of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) before it can become law.

Read More: Healthy Schools Act of 2010 (full text)

Jessica Gall Myrick

Originally from West Lafeytte, Ind., Jessica Gall Myrick moved to Bloomington in 2002 to run cross country and track for the IU Hoosiers and never left. She has a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's in Journalism from Indiana University.

View all posts by this author »

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Earth Eats:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Search Earth Eats

Earth Eats on Twitter

Earth Eats on Flickr

Harvest Public Media