If food is indeed a medicine, as the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates concluded over 2,000 years ago, Virginia has been feeding its youth pretty bad medicine for some time now. Although nutritional information across Virginia’s various school districts over the past decade is difficult to find, one needs only recall the school lunches that our own elementary and middle schools served…
While Virginia still isn’t a ‘healthy eating’ paragon, there are a number of signs that the state’s schools are getting serious about offering their students meals that are both tasty and full of nutritional punch. Of course, some school districts are better nutritional stewards than others at the moment.
Richmond could be considered among those regions in Virginia who stand to improve on their healthy eating opportunities. So it was with considerable excitement that six elementary schools in Richmond were awarded the “Fuel Up to Play 60” grants to “improve opportunities for healthy eating and physical fitness among students.”
The grants program is being run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in collaboration with two equally powerful representatives of America’s turn towards health (sarcasm): the National Dairy Council and the National Football League (NFL).
Removing the NFL from the healthy school menus equation for a moment, it’s disturbing that an organization that has so baldly lied to the American people about the potential effects of its products would be involved in any campaign that involves the dietary choices of Virginia’s school-age children. If the National Dairy Council were truly serious about reforming the food menus in Virginia’s schools, it would replace its factory produced milk products with those produced by grass fed and naturally raised cows. If you’re thinking that’s not very likely, I’d agree.
As long as powerful industry lobby groups like the National Dairy Council have a place at the policymaking table, Virginia’s school children will likely be the ones ultimately footing the bill of ill health as attempts to reform our state’s food menus remain just that, patchy attempts. But if Virginia wishes to raise a new generation of happy and healthy kids, it will have to shrug off the lobbying might of food industry groups whose main goal is profit, not a more fit and festive youth generation.