10 in 10: Ensure Every American Child Has Access to Healthy and Affordable Food: A “Gentle” Wish For a New Decade

10in101A new decade brings new opportunities and challenges. The interaction between diet and health received significant attention during “The Aughts.” What will we do during this next decade to respond to the call for action for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle? This is the fourth in a continuing series highlighting 10 ways you can help this year.


Knowing that the obesity epidemic in the United States has some scientists predicting that for the first time in history American children will live shorter lives than their parents, my wish for the next decade is to see First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and his administration succeed in their mission to ensure that every American child has access to healthy and affordable food. A recent gathering of Obama Administration officials invited to discuss their efforts to improve America’s food system left me hopeful that my wish will come true.

Courtesy: White House Blog

Courtesy: White House Blog

Last month in D.C. Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Dora Hughes, Counselor to the Secretary of Health, and Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and Food Initiative Coordinator for the First Lady each shared their goals for the next year during an event for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Community Program. Surprisingly it wasn’t their words that left me so inspired; rather it was the words of 10-year-old David Martinez-Ruiz. Kass shared with the audience a letter that the D.C. elementary school student had presented to the First Lady following his class visit to the White House Garden.

One of the things that I want to say about being at the White House was how gentle the feeling was. It felt surprisingly natural to be there. We planted on a warm day. The sun was out and there was a little breeze. The grass was beautiful and green. The people made us feel good. I liked the way the staff person who helped me was very gentle with the worms we found. I think about the garden as being gentle: gentle with nature, gentle to your body, and gentle with each other. Read More >

What is CLF’s Involvement in Meatless Monday?

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) is an interdisciplinary academic center that promotes research and communicates information about the complex interrelationships among diet, food production, environment and human health.  Some of  CLF’s work focuses on understanding food environments and the influence they have on eating behaviors; identifying what helps people adopt healthier eating behaviors; and creating food environments so that people have access to nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate, and healthy food on a regular basis.

CLF serves as a scientific advisor to the non-profit initiative, Meatless Monday , serving as a primary source for evidence-based health and nutrition information. Meatless Monday was developed following the release of Healthy People 2010 in 2000 by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. One of the goals for the nation was to reduce the consumption of saturated fat by at least 15 percent by 2010 – a goal that is consistent with the dietary recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the American Heart Association. Read More >

Protein 101: Dispelling the Myth Surrounding Meatless Meals

It is disappointing to see members of the media spread misinformation due to their own ignorance, gullibility, or, worse, disinterest in digging for the truth — especially when it has to do with the health of children. Case in point, a reporter from a South Dakota talk radio show apparently believes that Baltimore City Public Schools’ Meatless Monday meals are lacking in protein. Last Friday, Tom Riter asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a rather leading question (notice how many times he said “bother”) during a USDA news conference to preview the Obama administration’s priorities for the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization:

“Mr. Secretary, I was wondering if it bothered you… that… you were talking about the importance of the nutrition for the school children… and I was wondering if it bothered you that school districts like Baltimore, Maryland institute Meatless Mondays… not letting the children have protein in the diet by doing that. Does that bother you?”

Seriously? He thinks Baltimore City Schools are denying kids their recommended daily allowance of protein? I hate to break it to you Mr. Riter, but meat isn’t the only food that contains protein. Read More >