Last Friday I received my first issue of the Snail, one of the perks of being a member of the Slow Food Piedmont Triad Convivium. It could not have arrived at a better time. Located in the center of the magazine was a full page, black and white photo of a child looking straight at me. The opposite page began "YOU." Me? I read more.
"Congress is requiring that every public school district in America form a Wellness Committee and adopt a Wellness Policy by June 30, 2006," I had to read more.
"If you write the standards, you can ensure that children in America's schools will eat the healthy foods they deserve. If you don't write them, who will?" And now I am loosing sleep.
It was on the Center for Ecoliteracy website that I learned about the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorizing Act 2004 that would require "local wellness policies designed and implemented at the local level, and authorize the Department of Agriculture to provide technical assistance, if requested by the school or school district, in implementing healthy school environments. The content of local wellness policies would be decided by local parents, teachers, administrators, school food service, school boards, and the public."
On Monday morning I went to the Guilford County Schools to inquire about our own, local Wellness Committee and Wellness Policy and by Friday I had a clear understanding of where WE stand in the process of creating a better nutritional future for our children.
After speaking with Nancy Routh, School Board Member At-Large and head of Policy Development, she explained that at this time the Guilford County Schools have created two new policies concerning medication distribution and peanut allergies. These were state mandated and the schools have yet to create the Wellness Committee or the Wellness Policy that is required by the federal government. I have two children in the Guilford County school system and have not received any information on parental or public input on the Wellness Policy. During my conversation with Mrs. Routh she encouraged me to contact Robin Bergeron-Nolan, Curriculum Specialist, and volunteer for any committees that might be formed. After contacting Charlie Headington, President of the Slow Food Piedmont Triad, Charlie offered full support from our local convivium to support the Wellness Policy.
I was able to pick up a copy of the Wellness Policy requirements and guidelines that local schools will use to assist in this exciting endeavor. The Center for Ecoliteracy has also created guidelines that can be used to help meet the new requirements.
For years we have been reading, hearing and watching the rise in childhood obesity and the onset of adult related diseases in today's youth. It was recently stated that the upcoming generation will be the first not to out live the last. My son brought home a book about dinosaurs last year titled, The Monsters Who Died, by Vicki Cobb. It was frightening to read,
"Dinosaur eggs also show the decline of dinosaurs. Eggs 70 million years old and older have thick shells. The shells from the last 5 million years got thinner and thinner. Dinosaurs were not as healthy and it showed in their shells. Their egg shell did not provide good protection. Many young dinosaurs never hatched. The poor health of the parent affected the young."
This is a very crucial time for today's youth and for generations to come. It is important for those of us who have been supporting our local agricultural resources, whole foods, and our cooking heritage to stand up and support the needs of today's children.
The Slow Food Piedmont Triad Convivium will soon hold a meeting to address the Wellness Policy in our local schools. If you would like to receive more information and become an active participant in addressing the nutritional needs of our children, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are reading this from elsewhere in the United States EpiCourier would love to hear what your local, public schools are doing in regards to the Wellness Policy.
Our children depend on US!