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

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)

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