Sugared down: Advisory board calls for healthier school food
Parents concerned about the foods served up in Charlottesville City schools– and statistics suggesting that one in three local students fourth grade and up are overweight or obese– should mark their calendars for June 2. That's the night the Charlottesville School Board will meet and hear the recommendations of the School Health Advisory Board, a federally mandated volunteer board comprising parents, health professionals, and teachers.
According to Board Chair Ivana Kadija, mother of two city school students, the recommendations include slashing sugar and salt and seeking ways to increase offerings of local produce. (The schools already obtain some local produce and goods through the Food Hub, an organization that serves as a one-stop-shop for local produce, but the advisory board would like those efforts expanded).
"It's clear that sugar is something we are absolutely addicted to," says Kadija, citing research conducted in France that shows rats prefer intense sweetness even to highly addictive cocaine.
While Charlottesville City Schools Assistant Superintendent James Henderson says the school system has already made significant changes and is dedicated to further improving the nutrition in school-provided breakfast lunch and snacks, Kadija says more needs to be done.
An online petition Kadija created calls on the schools to restrict sugar intake and has already garnered more than 500 signatures from parents and officials including school board members Guian McKee and Juandiego Wade as well as Mayor Dave Norris and Charlottesville City Councilor Satyendra Huja.
The petition can be found at http://bit.ly/kUPSAd.