Heartbreaking. It’s the little successes that add up.
Via a Politico email alert:
The health law update from the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday found that costs would drop by $84 billion over 11 years because not all states would opt in to Medicaid expansion. About 6 million fewer people will be covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but about half of them would end up covered in the state-based health insurance exchanges, so about 3 million more people would be uninsured.
For more information… http://www.politico.com
Welcome back to the newest guest contributor to TPC, Kathleen Schafer:
If someone wants an issue to be front and center in American politics—do something to make Moms mad. The Obama Administration’s latest front in the battle against obesity, is the regulation of snacks and food that are not the requisite breakfast and lunch. First up on the firing line is the beloved bake sale.
In an era of dwindling resources for public schools, bake sales are often the lifeblood of parent organizations, interest clubs and students saving for class trips. While obviously not the bastion of health consciousness, they are capable of brining in serious money for cash-strapped school with some schools reporting they were able to raise up to $50,000. So what is a regulator to do? Address the rapidly rising rates of childhood obesity or anger Moms and students alike with an all out ban?
Unfortunately, like too many issues mired inside the Beltway, this is not an either or situation. It is, however, one that requires leadership willing to address the real issues instead of dealing with Band-Aid solutions. So what’s going on here?
As much from a perspective as a Mom as well as a leadership expert, it seems most politicians are unwilling to discuss the fundamental importance of effective parenting in the outcomes for children. Regulators and advocates try to skirt this issue by addressing touchy subjects with overarching approaches that end up failing everyone. Blanket approaches are taken to address one issue that ends up causing another—or more. Preaching to families to eat healthy foods is great and if there is no culture, resources or real-life reference points to support a switch to fruits and vegetables from junk food, it simply isn’t going to happen. (Moreover, the real issue is what is going on in the lives of these families, that is the parents, that they anesthetize themselves and their kids with food, rather than opting to live healthy, balanced lives.)
So in an effort to address obesity in families that clearly needing broader support than admonitions to eat more greens, the political answer comes in the form of banning a cultural tradition that many enjoy. Perhaps the Department of Agriculture could consider the following leadership basics of building support and real-life solutions:
· Create Connections: No greater network exists than parents of school-age children. Many would agree with the basic precepts of healthy eating and encouraging that behavior in the schools and no one wants to be told they can’t do something they have always done and enjoyed. Talk with those who will be impacted by your decision before the news stories hit the stands.
· Manage the Pace of Change: While change is fundamental to life, people can only take so much at one time. Has anyone at the USDA talked to the Department of Education to find out how much money is being cut from schools? Perhaps a bit snarky, and yet, when a group is already under siege attacking a tradition can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
· Create Buy-In: Change doesn’t take place by telling other people what to do, change happens, as people are inspired to make other choices. By engaging parents and schools in genuine discussions around healthy eating across the spectrum of students’ lives new approaches and workable solutions can more easily be found.
· Engage Everyone’s Talents and Skills: One of the biggest complaints against federal regulation is the feeling that someone without any connection to a person’s neighborhood or town, is making decisions for them. If incentives were put in place to encourage local strategies what one school does may look different than another and in the end, a customized approach that creates results is much better than a blanket policy the is the target of ridicule, aspersions and avoidance.
I am all in favor of improving the quality of food our children consume and I would be the first to say a drastic decline in the prevalence of processed foods would serve everyone. The point of this article is that superficial strategies like banning bake sales serves no one. For the children that are consuming large quantities of sweet, fattening foods they will get it, if not from a bake sale then somewhere else. For families that maintain a more balanced diet and few dollars for a plate of cookies is a win-win.
True leadership evolves at the level at which the issue exists. Each school needs a vibrant, engaged parent body that is willing to examine the situation of their particular school and make appropriate “policies” for each situation. Perhaps asking for a variety of baked goods that include fruit, whole grains and other more wholesome ingredients is a good start. For others it may be including fruits and vegetables in their offering and some schools may find other ways of raising money. By taking leadership out of the hands of those who are living with the issue, we disempower the very people we need to be more engaged with it—the parents.
The solution to the problems we face as a nation will not be found, nor created inside the Beltway. It is important for each person to engage their leadership in their lives and starting by addressing healthy eating habits is a good—and easy place to do it. Let’s hope the government encourages leadership and doesn’t squelch it.
Kathleen Schafer is the Founder and President of Leadership Connection, through which she has trained individuals and organizations–particularly women and other underrepresented groups–to be effective leaders. Schafer built the political leadership curriculum, still in use, at The George Washington University School of Political Management and is the author of Living The Leadership Choice.
Lisa Graves, who you see in this video with Thom Hartmann, sent me a link to a piece on ALEC that she wanted to share. By the way, Lisa is officially awesome. (Just had to throw that in.)
First things first. What is ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council )?
Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. [...]
More than 98% of ALEC’s revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. [...]
The organization boasts 2,000 legislative members and 300 or more corporate members. The unelected corporate representatives (often registered lobbyists) sit as equals with elected representatives on nine task forces where they have a “voice and a vote” on model legislation.
In other words, corporations are writing bills that Congress passes that result in laws that we must live by… including Voter I.D. laws.
Now ALEC is whining because the EPA wants to limit the sale of poisons that our kids can (and do) ingest, and they complain that by regulating lethal substances, Big Government is being way too intrusive (but of course, limiting reproductive rights is A-OK).
An American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) member is defying Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules limiting the sale of rat poisons that pose dangers to children and the ecosystem. ALEC representatives say that kids eating rat poison is an “acceptable risk” that does not justify government intervention in the market. [...]
As for the claim the EPA action is an example of the “nanny state” with the government substituting its judgment for that of parents, [Aaron Colangelo, an attorney for the NRDC] says a child’s exposure to rat poison often occurs in settings outside of a parent’s control. “It is one thing to say parents need to be conscious of what their kids are doing in their own homes,” he said. “But exposure [to the rodenticides] is not limited to one’s own home.” [...]
For Colangelo, it is a disgrace that a few “hold-out bad actors from the chemical industry” are further delaying EPA regulation of the rodenticides, despite decades of evidence of harm.
“It should not take this long to do something simple like protect toddlers from rat poisoning.”
“Pro-life” my ass.
This is sooo important and necessary! Since I’ve had to restrict my salt I have been unable to eat 95% of foods that I would have never given a second thought to before.
First Lady Michelle Obama gave her support Thursday to healthful menu changes at Darden Restaurants, the parent company of mega-chains such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster. The company announced Thursday it’s cutting calories and sodium in all of its restaurants, offering more healthful choices on its kids’ menus and revamping other food choices.
Obama launched the Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity, and has challenged restaurants to offer more healthful menu items. So far, establishments such as McDonald’s, IHOP and Burger King have jumped on board, pledging to include better options such as fruit.
In July, McDonald’s said it would alter its Happy Meals, cutting back on French fries and adding apples. The company also plans to reduce calories, saturated fats, added sugar and sodium on its menu. Other restaurant chains, such as Romano’s Macaroni Grill and the Cheesecake Factory, have also added more healthful items to their menus. Who said peer pressure was a bad thing?
Darden’s plans include reducing overall calories and sodium by 10% over the next five years, and by 20% over the next 10 years.** In addition, it will look at reformulating, resizing and removing specific menu items and add what it calls in a news release “calorie-conscious, flavorful choices.”
Children’s menus will have fruits or vegetables as default side dishes, and an 8-ounce glass of 1% milk is currently the default beverage, with free refills. Parents are free to substitute other items, however. In the release the company said it would create specific nutrition standards for developing children’s meals.
Just for giggles I went over to the Red Lobster site (I’ve never been to Olive Garden, I prefer my Italian homey) and calculated a lunch menu I’ve had a bunch of times with my friend Shelli.
1/2 Order Stuffed Mushrooms 555mg sodium
Garlic Scampi Shrimp 640mg sodium
Fresh Broccoli 200mg
Garden Salad 105mg
Fat Free Ranch Dressing 250mg
2 Cheddar Bisquits 700mg
Normal DAILY recommendation of sodium is 2500, reduced salt intake recommendation is under 1500. This lunch alone is 2540mg.
**No where near enough.
How incredibly smart and sensible. Give the kids food they eat every day for lunch, and MAYBE they’ll freaking eat it. Kudos.
At 10:59 a.m., the doors to the cafeteria at Sophie B. Wright Charter School swing open and hungry sixth-graders file rapidly in, sniffing the air and jostling in line. It’s the first lunch shift at the Uptown school, and chef Pete Riley and his crew are ready and waiting, the serving line loaded with Creole-baked catfish, garlicky cauliflower-broccoli-carrot mix and yellow rice.
The lunch program is a point of pride at Wright, meeting federal guidelines with healthy, New Orleans-flavored food. Neighbors of the Napoleon Avenue school chow down at the cafeteria’s annual food festival during Carnival parades. Touro Synagogue, a school partner located around the corner on St. Charles Avenue, orders a seafood-free gumbo for some of its special events. And while most of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, faculty, staff and even the UPS delivery man gladly pay $3.50 for Riley’s lunch.
When Principal Sharon Clark was choosing a meal program after Hurricane Katrina, she opted for a personal touch, reasoning that if children liked the food, they would waste less of it.
“Instead of hiring a service or subcontracting out to a food service, I decided to hire a chef,” Clark said. “Mr. Riley came aboard, and he’s been cooking for us for six years.”
He’s also a nutrition-conscious stickler for fresh foods who grows tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers in his Carrollton back yard, and enjoys a salad for breakfast.
Riley is a bit of a workaholic, showing up without fail at 6 a.m. “This man has never missed one day of work or been tardy for one day of work,” said Clark. “Every now and then, we give him an award.”
“I just love what I do,” Riley said. “I love working with kids. It makes me feel good when I see them enjoying the food.”
When Riley was hired, Clark wanted to make sure that students ate lunch and that federal nutrition guidelines were followed. The chef complied with a menu that’s full of local flavor but tweaked with brown rice, salads, greens, steamed vegetables and seafood.
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Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
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