Implementation of these standards at the national level has made a difference in school meals offered to the 27 million children participating in USDA’s school nutrition programs. Further information about those changes are in your folder, and because of the time, I’ll not go through all of that explanation.But I would like to tell you that we recently analyzed data collected from California school districts as part of their required evaluation of success in meeting these standards. We found that the average percentage of calories from fat in the California school lunches tested decreased from approximately 38 percent and over before the standards were in place to an average of 30.5 percent currently.The recent California High School Fast Food Survey, conducted by California Project LEAN, found that school reimbursable meals were not the problem. Unfortunately, establishing nutrition standards for other foods and beverages sold throughout the school campus remains a tremendous challenge, as we’ve been discussing today.Growing concern exists regarding the long-term impact of the escalating availability of low-nutrient, high-calorie foods in the schools. Research demonstrates that the food choices available in a child’s environment, and there’s more research emerging on this, are indeed a key component in effective nutrition education and changing behaviors.To address this problem, California Department of Education cooperated last September with the California Elected Women’s Association (CEWAER) to convene over 700 school administrators, superintendents, educators, legislators, child nutrition sponsors, food policy advocates, parents, and youth representatives, as you’ve just heard. The goal of this summit was to develop new strategies for the implementation of a seamless network of school, community, state, and national policies to create a healthier environment in our public schools. As a result of the summit, more 57
than forty agencies and organizations have joined as partners in a new coalition to continue to guide change. This coalition is known as the California Children’s Coalition for Activity and Nutrition, and I’ll refer to it as CCCAN.The recommendations that resulted from the summit have been combined into the proposed California Children’s Health and Achievement Initiative, and the initial draft outlining the initiative is in your materials for this hearing. Most critical of all of the recommendations is a consensus that acomprehensive approach involving schools, health agencies, communities, agriculture, the media, and state and federal programs is essential to improving the health and academic performance of California’s children. The initiative contains three key elements, and again, because of time, I’ll go through these briefly without a long explanation; but you do have more information in your folder.