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D.C. Praised For Healthy Initiatives In Schools

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Vincent Gray, Chairman of the D.C. Council and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack serve children food at Alice Deal Middle School in Northwest D.C.
Kavitha Cardoza
Vincent Gray, Chairman of the D.C. Council and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack serve children food at Alice Deal Middle School in Northwest D.C.

By Kavitha Cardoza

Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is praising leaders in D.C. for passing legislation designed to curb childhood obesity. The bill is designed to support healthy choices for students.

11-year-old Nora Douglas at Alice Deal Middle School rattles off terms like trans-fats and sodium levels. And, she understands what they mean. That's because she says nutrition is very important to her.

"Sixth grade is like a battle. You want to choose between healthy foods and foods your friends eat," says Douglas.

The new law would give her a little ammunition in that battle. It mandates schools provide fresh fruits and vegetables and low calorie, nutritious meals, and increases the time students spend exercising.

Council member Mary Cheh says she's spoken to students from the school who eat a food dish from a high end grocery store every Wednesday.

"I was asking a number of the students what have you liked the best? And they said, 'The broccoli casserole!' That's what their favorite meal was! And that's another indicator to me that if food is well prepared, its nutritious, children will like it," says Cheh.

Vilsack says the law is a model for other localities.

"The reality is that youngsters who are hungry or youngsters who are obese oftentimes have issues with their learning and may not be the best students they were meant to be," he says.

It isn't clear whether the D.C. Council will approve a soda tax to fund the program.

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