Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefourth meeting of the Task Force on Childhood Obesity was held on Tuesday, October 25, 2011, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tom Riner, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order at 10:15 a.m., and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Katie Kratz Stine, Co-Chair; Representative Tom Riner, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, and Jimmy Higdon; Representatives Bob M. DeWeese, Mary Lou Marzian, David Watkins, and Addia Wuchner.
Guest Legislator: Representative Dennis Horlander.
Guests: Antonia Demas, Ph.D., President and Founder, Food Studies Institute, Visiting Scholar, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, and University of Illinois College of Medicine; Tim Roethgen, Marketing Team Leader, Whole Foods Market, Mid-Atlantic Region; Mike Cassady, Principal, Inez Elementary School; Julia O. Bauscher, SNS, Director, School and Community Nutrition Services, Jefferson County Public Schools; Donna Benton, Practical Living Specialist, Jefferson County Public Schools; Barbara Dohira, Independent School Health Consultant; Bruce W. Scott, Mental Health America-Kentucky; Jennifer Alvis and Meredith Evans, Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs; Sharon Heckel, Hope J. Proctor, and Bill Doll, Kentucky Medical Association; Andrea Plummer, Kentucky Youth Advocates; Susan Zepeda, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky; and Jodi Mitchell, Kentucky Voices for Health.
A motion to approve the minutes of the September 20, 2011 meeting was made by Senator Stine, seconded by Representative Watkins, and approved by voice vote.
Food Is Elementary
Antonia Demas, Ph.D., President and Founder, Food Studies Institute, Visiting Scholar, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, and University of Illinois College of Medicine, stated that parents need to begin cooking with their children at an early age, because when children get involved in the preparation of the food, they will learn to eat healthier. The Food is Elementary (FIE) is a sensory-based hands on curriculum for children and it is the goal to have it in every Kentucky school. If children are not fed properly, they cannot learn as efficiently. Children are getting to many empty calories too often. Education is the solution and the federal government needs to support and provide funding this education. Cancer, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes are all chronic disease that could be avoidable by eating a healthy diet. The analysis from a study by Dana Kindermann, MPH, found that if FIE could prevent one case of diabetes among the 13,000 students in the 130 participating schools, the program could be considered cost-saving. The estimated average per person cost of FIE for one year is about $229. The average cost of diabetes treatment for one year is $6,650. Approximately one-third of young children are expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime.
The school lunch program serves approximately 53 million students per year. The United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) requires students receive protein, fruit, vegetable, grain, and milk every day. The school lunch program could be a good way to turn the obesity problem around. Low-income children rely on school lunches, because it may be the only meal they eat that day. Children should have a longer time to eat lunch and be able to eat in a calm environment. In the United States 82 percent to 92 percent of food sales are processed; 16 percent of energy used in food production is for processing; and 7 percent of energy used in food production is for packaging. Students experience the sensory value of smell as it relates to taste, so children need to be introduced to and experiment with new foods to see what foods they prefer. If children are allowed to help grow and prepare foods, they are more likely to eat it. Food is visually appealing to people; therefore, children are more likely to eat colorful foods. Food can also be used in art classes to create artwork and then students would be allowed to eat the healthy foods. Students could also keep food journals as part of the language arts school curriculum.
The average distance food travels before we eat it is 1,500 miles. Locally grown produce is healthier for everyone. Schools could raise their own produce to serve healthier school lunches. It takes approximately one acre of land to produce one year of food per child. Unfortunately, a large number of children have not had access to healthy foods. FIE is a great way to expose children to other cultures and geographical locations by serving foods from other countries. Children can share what they have learned with their families and help them make healthier food choices.
Cynthia Starr, volunteer food educator at Zachary Taylor Elementary School in Louisville, stated that children will eat healthier if they are taught about healthy foods. Children can learn to like whole food instead of processed food. Children can learn the nutritional value of the foods to help them make healthier choices. Children need to use all of their senses when learning about foods. A good way to keep children actively involved in the curriculum is to have food demonstrations with student participation. Kentucky ranks third in the nation for childhood obesity, with 21 percent of children dangerously obese.
In response to a question by Representative Riner, Dr. Demas stated that she studied with Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, who was on her PhD dissertation committee while at Cornell University. The China Study is the largest nutrition study ever conducted in the world.
In response to questions by Senator Stine, Dr. Demas stated that according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC), one half of the children born in 2000 are expected to develop Type 2 diabetes. FIE starts with food safety and builds to cooking lessons. All schools that have implemented the FIE curriculum have shown improvement. While some private schools use the FIE curriculum, there is no reason public schools cannot use the same sensory-based methods.
In response to a question by Representative Marzian, Dr. Demas stated that people need to see the results of the FIE curriculum to believe it. There would be a cost savings for schools if healthier foods were served in the lunch program, because there would be less attendance problems due to sick children. Children are not condemned for current habits, but encouraged to develop positive habits.
School Salad Bars and Gardens in Martin County, Kentucky
Tim Roethgen, Marketing Team Leader, Whole Foods Market, Mid-Atlantic Region, stated that Whole Food Market is a mission-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. The company is building a business in which high standards, community service, and environmental stewardship permeate all aspects of the company. The mission of Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project (RAMP) is to teach, feed, and sustain the families of the Appalachian region by creating programs that address nutrition and end hunger. Programs include community and school gardens, healthy eating education, school salad bars, the backpack snack program, and the homecoming food pantry. The goal of the Whole Kids Foundation is to improve children’s nutrition and reverse the trend in childhood obesity. Whole Kids Foundation focuses on efforts in school garden grants, salad bars in schools, and nutrition education and inspiration for teachers.
Of the total population of Martin County, more than 32 percent are children under the age of 18 and the elderly. Many school-aged children do not have enough to eat on a regular basis. They are fed through the public schools’ federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program on school days, but many arrive at school on Monday hungry. Three of the six Martin County public schools have raised bed gardens, and will add three more school gardens in 2012. In the fall of 2010, Whole Foods Market donated salad bars to all six schools in Martin County. The goal is to be able to operate the salad bar five days per week. Whole Foods’ regional produce team partnered with Earthbound Farm for a program fundraiser. For each Earthbound Farms salad mix purchased, five cents is donated to the Martin County salad bar program. Healthy options are available in most communities. Martin County needs to create more commerce to help boost the economy. Whole Foods Market bought a bus and incorporated a kitchen to help educate communities about healthier choices.
In response to questions by Senator Stine, Mr. Roethgen stated that schools set up a garden committee of students led by teachers to help take care of the gardens during the summer. In addition to the garden committee and teacher, next year the company wants to work with the extension agency to have a larger committee to help oversee the gardens during the summer. Whole Foods has a number of urban gardens in Louisville, but does not have any in Covington or Newport yet. The company carries a number of Kentucky Proud products in its stores, and it is the reason why Whole Foods can have as many local products in its stores. The company is in the process of determining where the next store will be located.
In response to questions by Representative Wuchner, Mike Cassady, Principal, Inez Elementary School in Martin County, stated that the federal school lunch program has its own guidelines that is based on calories. Starting in 2011, all children in Martin County eat free because of the federal lunch program. More children eat school lunches because it is available to them. School food service people had to adapt to the preparation and length of time required to serve the salad bar and fruit. Options have to be offered to the students. The Family Resource Center works with schools and Whole Foods on the lunch program.
In response to questions by Representative Riner, Mr. Cassady stated that he wanted to set an example for his students and teachers, so he has lost approximately 90 pounds by eating healthier and exercising. He noticed a difference in his health and level of physical ability. It is important to expose children to different eating habits.
Senator Higdon stated that each county has a Supplemental and Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) coordinator is mandated to address childhood obesity. Mr. Roethgen stated that the Family Resource Center also works with Martin County SNAP coordinators.
School Physical Activity and Nutrition Programs
Julia O. Bauscher, Director, School Food Service (SFS) Program, School and Community Nutrition Services, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), stated that of the School Food Service Program serves 61,000 students lunch each day and 31,000 students are served breakfast. A model has been developed to contract with local farmers to provide a variety of produce. JCPS received 33 USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grants that offer students a fresh fruit or vegetable snack three days per week. JCPS works with local chefs to help revise recipes with a reduction in sodium content. There are 35 student nutrition advisory councils (SNAC) at all levels of JCPS schools. Students meet periodically to sample new items for school menus and provide other feedback on the school nutrition environment. Councils have approved numerous recipes and healthier versions of menu items. Since 2009, the SFS program has been involved to help develop 27 new school gardens. The school garden coordinator has written a policy and procedure manual for the school gardens that helps to assure that students and cafeteria staff handle fresh produce properly. A comprehensive accompanying curriculum connects the school gardens to all of the subjects taught in the school and is aligned with the Kentucky Core Content Assessment Standard (KCAS). In January 2010, 77 of the 88 elementary schools received a Healthier US School Challenge bronze award. Nine elementary schools were selected to participate in the Physical Education for Progress (PEP) three-year grant. The grant is expanding and enhancing current programs within the Health Promotion Schools of Excellence (HPSE) schools to address childhood obesity and chronic disease prevention. The three components of the grant are Y5210, Funtastic Fitness Pedometer, and Go Healthy Nutrition programs.
Donna Benton, Practical Living Specialist, Jefferson County Public Schools, stated that the practical living program review implemented in 2011 has the potential to help with the health and physical education curriculum and wellness initiatives and needs to stay part of the accountability system. The Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant received from the CDC has allowed school districts to make progress in the area of physical activity. There are two elementary schools are that are health and fitness magnet schools. The requirements in SB 172 allows up to 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity can count as instructional time is huge and has improved the physical activity environment in the schools. JCPS schools are working on physical education classes to increase quantity and time of physical activity in a physical education class. All students can be physically active in the classroom and in after school programs. The more a teacher values health, the more the classroom reflects health practices.
In response to Representative Horlander, Ms. Benton stated the two elementary health and fitness for accelerated learning program magnet schools are Rangeland and Wellington. Approximately 61 percent of students eat lunch every day, and the other 39 percent bring their own lunch or skip lunch altogether.
In response to questions by Representative Wuchner, Ms. Benton stated that approximately 90 percent of Jefferson County schools conduct at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Teachers do not want to be mandated to make changes in physical activity requirements, so Jefferson County only invites teachers to make the changes.
In response to a question by Representative Riner, Ms. Benton stated that she would get back with the task force with recommendations.
In response to questions by Senator Stine, Ms. Benton stated that structured recess professional development is being offered on how to make recess really be moderate to vigorous physical activity. Most schools provide structured recess, but it could be improved. Ms. Bauscher stated that students may voluntarily not eat lunch while in the cafeteria, but they still have to go to lunch. Students cannot leave the school grounds during the lunch period.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:33 p.m.