To the Editor…

by on July 26, 2015

In response to Jean Ronnel’s, SNA Presidents, letter to Dana Woldow’s letter.

I am Food and Nutritional Director of the Novato Unified School District (NUSD), CA.   and one of those long time members of the 55,000 SNA membership that you mention in your response to Dana Woldow. I too, like many other SNA members across the nation, am very interested in providing the best nutritional sources of food for of all the boys and girls participating in our school meal programs.

I also agree that we need flexibility in our school meal program to ensure that we are meeting those nutritional needs with the limited financial resources at our disposal.   It’s the type of flexibility in our schools meals program that I disagree with SNA.

For instance, the fruit and vegetable requirement on the plate of every child that takes a school meal should not be up for discussion. As a parent, I have always ensured that my children were served a fruit or vegetable on their plates. Albeit, the fruit or vegetable was not always consumed entirely, they were always encouraged to take a few bites and taste the fruits and veggies. Over the years, my children begin to eat more fruits and veggies on their own.

We know that many children across the nation are not afforded the same opportunity of fruits and vegetables in their homes.   Schools can assist in this area by ensuring that all children are provided with fruits or vegetables on their plates.   My intention to stress this point is not to provide a nutritional lesson, but simply state that as Nutritionists\ Dietitians in care of children’s health, we are all very well versed in which foods should be on their plates, fruits and vegetables.   If there is any flexibility in the fruit and vegetable rule, it should address the required amount that must be taken verses should the child have the option to take it or not.

I have been somewhat disappointed with the direction of SNA the last few years. NUSD, like Saint Paul Public Schools, has made many improvements in our school menus to ensure that children are offered whole,real food.   You are correct in stating that these healthful transitions have not been easy due to lack of financial resources. I encourage you to have influence on the SNA leadership on this critical aspect of our school meals program. Our 55,000 members should be demanding an increased funding and not in flexibility waivers.

I have continued my membership with SNA, not because I agree with the stance of the SNA leadership to allow waivers for highly processedfoods to “fit” into the current meal requirements of our school meal programs in effort to increase our financial bottom lines, but because I believe in our 55,000 members and the efforts they are putting forth to ensure children are nourished with whole, real foods.

The science on the importance of proper nutrition for children is as evident as ever.   We know more than ever that highly processed foods are contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic, Type II Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, heart disease and many other chronic illnesses that are plaguing our children in our communities.   No, today we have to take a strong stance as 55,000 members and say that we will no longer allowhighly processed foods to “fit” into our menu plans. We must speak up for those that have no voices in the matter of healthful foods, the millions of boys and girls that are served each day in our school meal programs.

Jean, it is my wish, that you help lead our 55,000 membership in this direction. You will have my full support if children’s health and wellbeing, and not special interest groups supporting highly processed foods, are truly the focus of SNA leadership.

 

Miguel Villarreal

Director of Food and Nutritional Services

Novato Unified School District

Filed under: Letters to the Editor

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