Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow Says Michigan Setting National Example of Success in Feeding Healthy Meals to Children

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said that school administrators, parents, community leaders and other stakeholders must work together to address challenges in providing healthy meals to children in schools, and pointed to Michigan schools as an example where collaboration is making a difference. Stabenow invited Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition, to testify before her Committee as part of a larger effort to update child nutrition laws.

Chairwoman Stabenow said recent studies are showing that healthier, improved meal options are being well received by school children in Michigan and across the country, and efforts like farm-to-school gardens are teaching kids the importance of where their food comes from.

"I have had the opportunity to visit many schools in Michigan and I have been impressed to see elementary school students enjoying broccoli and pineapple from salad bars, and students learning about where their food comes from through farm-to-school efforts," Stabenow said.

"We must continue working together to address challenges in providing healthy meals in schools; reversing course is not an option because the health of our children is directly linked to the health of our economy, security, and long-term sustainability not just in Michigan, but across the country."

Under Betti Wiggins' leadership, Detroit Public Schools are working together with food distributors, farmers and other community leaders, and they are succeeding in meeting the challenges of serving high quality meals to approximately 50,000 school children every day.

"Both our breakfast and lunch menus include a healthy array of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, 100 percent fruit juices and low‐fat milk," Wiggins said. "We also offer free healthy suppers for numerous at‐risk students through our after‐school programs."

"I am extremely proud of what Betti and her team are doing in Detroit," added Stabenow. "Their work demonstrates how we can help our schools rise to the challenge of feeding our nation's children."

Today's hearing is part of an ongoing effort to update and improve child nutrition laws, which were last updated in 2010's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.