A New Movement for Child Nutrition and Healthy Eating
In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it’s been common practice for the First Lady to champion a cause: Lady Bird Johnson was a staunch environmentalist. Barbara Bush was a strong advocate for family literacy. Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on health care while her husband was in Office. Today, Michelle Obama unveiled her own project. Amid reports that suggest one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives and health care costs of obesity-related diseases may average $147 billion per year, the First Lady is taking on childhood obesity through Let’s Move, a “comprehensive, collaborative, and community-oriented [campaign that] will include strategies to address the various factors that lead to childhood obesity.” A big part of this movement, especially the healthy schools initiative, is reauthorizing the Child Nutrition programs for the next five years. These programs provide meals for over 31 million children throughout the year and must be robustly funded in order for the meals to reach the greatest number of students and contain the highest nutritional value possible. You can e-mail your Representatives in Congress asking them to fully fund Child Nutrition Programs here, in the RAC’s Chai Impact Action Center.
The First Lady is not the only one noticing the need for a new way of looking at food: At last year’s Biennial, Rabbi Eric Yoffie urged members of the URJ to seek ethical and healthier ways of eating. At the URJ’s “Just Table, Green Table” website, you can find advice on how to get started in promoting healthy, sustainable, and ethical eating at your synagogue, alongside a study guide on how to think critically about the ethical implications of food choices and food systems. As Rabbi Yoffie said, as Jews, we are not exempt from thinking deeply about how our food affects our bodies. “Reform Jews are ethically aware, ecologically responsible, and sensitive to matters of physical and spiritual health,” he said. “We know that our Jewish tradition speaks to these issues, and that our young people care about them. At such times, Reform Judaism does not remain silent.”