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Cut Down on Meat For Kids

Last month, first lady Michelle Obama called on the US Conference of Mayors to help her fight the national scourge of childhood obesity. She noted that one-third of all children are overweight or obese. She proposed healthier school lunch fares, increased physical activity, and nutrition education.

Traditionally, the National School Lunch Program has served as a dumping ground for USDA’s surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, USDA’s own surveys indicate that 90% of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15% eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

In the past few years, several state legislatures have asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options. According to the School Nutrition Association, 52 percent of US school districts now do. Last fall, the Baltimore City Public School system became the first in the US to offer its 80,000 students a complete weekly break from meat.

Parents and others who care about our children’s health should demand healthful, plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items.

Bob Lovejoy, Buffalo

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