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I am writing in the hope that some of you might share my concern about the quality of food served in our schools.   I don't mean to step on a soapbox.   I have no plans to away treats or serve tofu, I am just working toward little changes. 

During my Mommy years, I have been quietly advocating better food choices.  For example, I developed a plan for Stepping Stones to get the necessary grant money to build an Edible Schoolyard in their central courtyard.  I support Farmers Markets and patronize businesses that use local produce like The Schoolhouse of Cannondale, Boxcar Cantina and Nicholas Roberts.

In trying to find key school decision makers to support my efforts, I emailed the New Canaan Public School District’s Board of Education (Jenny McMahon was the only person to reply) and superintendent David Abbey the following information to demonstrate the impact of nutrition on health, mental clarity and behavior.  I also asked them to adopt the Top Ten List suggested by Better School Food.  

Evidence shows that behavior problems decrease and test scores improve when children have the benefit of good nutrition (see http://www.school-lunch.org/school.html).  

A study done by the University of Minnesota has found that school lunch sales don't decline when healthier meals are served. The study also shows that more nutritious lunches don't necessarily cost schools more to produce.

Dr. Jim Stevenson and his team of researchers headed by Donna McCann at Southampton University have just completed and published their much-anticipated research on normal children given drinks with a mix of coloring plus a preservative.  The study, which was published online in The Lancet on September 6, 2007, concluded: Artificial colors or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population.

Statistics from CSPI's School Foods Toolkit (www.cspinet.org):

·      Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are responsible for two-thirds of deaths in the U.S. The major risk factors for these diseases are often established in childhood.
 

·      One quarter of children ages 5 to 10 years show early warning signs for heart disease.
 

·      Type 2 Diabetes can no longer be called "adult onset" because of rising rates in children.

·      Obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the last two decades. One in seven young people are obese, and one in three are overweight.
 

·      From 1979 to 1999, annual hospital costs for treating obesity-related illnesses in children rose threefold (from $35 million to $127 million).