NEW HAVEN’S HEALTHY SCHOOL FOOD INITIATIVE FEATURED IN NATIONAL MAYORS’ REPORT ON COMBATING CHILDHOOD HUNGER
(11/16/2009) NEW HAVEN- A report released today by The U.S. Conference of Mayors includes New Haven’s Healthy Food in Schools effort among 45 initiatives in 24 cities across the country that are contributing to President Obama’s goal of ending childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015.
The mayors’ report, published with the support of Sodexo, is intended to provide local officials across the nation with examples of successful approaches to meeting the nutritional needs of low-income children of all ages in their schools, communities, and homes. It includes descriptions of mayors’ efforts to organize anti-hunger efforts city-wide, examples of how cities are making national programs fit their unique local situations, and examples of how individual institutions such as schools and hospitals are creating innovative solutions to their cities’ childhood hunger problems.
In April 2008, Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and the New Haven Board of Education returned the City to a self-operated school food service program. Working with a diverse group of community leaders, including labor unions and the New Haven Food Policy Council, the Board of Education recruited a chef who brought with him a commitment to serving fresh, healthy food to schoolchildren, experience with farm-to-school programs and with cooking food economically from scratch on an institutional scale, and strong networking and labor management skills. To support the transition to a self-operated food service program, the District Wellness Committee and the New Haven Food Policy Council collaborated to create the Working Group on School Food, which serves as a place for community members, administrators, teachers, food service workers, parents and students to come together to advocate for fresh, healthy, minimally-processed food in schools.
“Nutrition is a key to our children’s ability to succeed in the classroom and in life,” said DeStefano. “In New Haven, we’re committed to supporting our children in developing good eating habits and living healthy lives. Initiatives in our school cafeterias and a number of events and experiences we develop for our children provide them with an opportunity to make better nutritional choices and develop good, lifelong eating habits.”
Since the beginning of the current school year, an average of 1,560 more meals per day have been served, and there has been a 73 percent increase in the number of meals containing fresh fruits and vegetables or unprocessed foods, 10 percent of which are sourced locally.
“Because childhood hunger results in poorer academic performance, increased absences and tardiness, learning from the successes outlined in this report can help spread initiatives that break the cycle of hunger and poverty,” said Stephen J. Brady, president of the Sodexo Foundation. “We hope that this report inspires and encourages the increased efforts that are necessary during these continued difficult times when so many Americans are facing hunger.”
“Ending childhood hunger in America by 2015 is an enormous challenge. We need reports of successful models if we are to inspire and motivate people to take action,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the Conference of Mayors. “In publishing reports like this one, our goal is to help mayors learn about the variety of programs they can employ and strategies they can pursue to combat hunger in their cities.”
Among the 23 other cities whose successful efforts to combat childhood hunger are described in the report are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The mayors’ report, Childhood Anti-Hunger Programs in 24 Cities, is available at www.usmayors.org.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (www.usmayors.org) is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.
Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com) is a leading integrated facilities management services company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with $7.7 billion (USD) in annual revenue and 120,000 employees. Sodexo serves more than ten million customers daily in corporations, health care, long term care and retirement centers, schools, college campuses, government, and remote sites. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., is a member of Sodexo Group, and funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation (www.SodexoFoundation.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $11 million in grants to fight hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at www.sodexoUSA.com/blog.