When I Questioned the Feds and Why You Are Needed Now

This week, CongressDaily published some of my conversation with Secretary of Agriculture Vilsak. I hope someone in power will read it and understand that we can’t just talk about the health of our children and invent new programs to “help” them.  It is a question of where we are putting our money.  All the jumping jacks and walks to school must be supported by healthy food!!!  The love of a fresh spinach salad with a whole grain roll will last long after they leave school.  Yes, walk to school, but many children are greeted by donuts and Fruit Loops.

Good quality food costs money and it is worth it to spend it on our children!  Please, please make your voice heard right now!  The easiest way is to go here to send an email where it matters most or to telephone the Capitol Hill switchboard at 1-800-815-3740 and ask to speak to your U.S. House Representative.  Tell him or her that you want an additional dollar per lunch allotted in the reauthorization  of the Child Nutrition Act,   that, in addition to the extra dollar, you want the following:

  • Increased quality of meals served in the school meal program; including less use of highly processed foods which are high in fat and sodium, increased fresh and high quality fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and reduced overall sodium content.
  • Strengthened nutrition standards for school meal programs and competitive foods.
  • At least $50 million mandatory funding for Farm to School programs. (Healthy Schools Campaign)
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My School Lunch Revolution

Click here to go to my recent post on Chicago Moms Blog about my three-year long battle with our school lunch program and what we can do about it now (write your representatives!).  Also, see this recent article here (not written by me) and one in the New York Times (also not by me).

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsak Not Serious Enough about Child Nutrition Reform

I just got off the phone on a conference call with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak and my “sisters” at the Silicon Valley Moms Group where I blog for Chicago Moms Blog.  He claimed to be seriously concerned about childhood obesity, confiding that he was overweight as a child.  However,  when he was asked whether high fructose corn syrup (“HFCS”) will be eliminated as an acceptable ingredient in child school lunches under the soon to be revised Child Nutrition Act, he said, “I honestly don’t know if we would be as prescriptive as eliminating this . . .” and suggested that there would be a “push back” from Congress or a “push back politically.”    I had the opportunity to ask him why government surplus food with high fructose corn syrup and dairy with artificial hormones and antibiotics are being “dumped” on our schools.  I also asked him why it is more expensive to buy an organic apple than a cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant.  His response showed me that he is not really serious about reducing the obesity rates and that it is more important to support and subsidize powerful corporate groups like the Corn Refiners Association, the American Corn Grower’s Association, the National Corn Grower’s Association and the like.     He said that we will always be growing corn in our country and “we won’t stop providing resources to those who grow corn”.  He said nothing about the dairy industry (perhaps my question was too long anyway).  I wish I had a chance to follow up on his praise of corn and corn farmers.  I would have suggested that we turn to a much better, much more nutritious and hardier crop — hemp.  Yes, hemp oil contains wonderful omega 3s to feed our brain, while corn is a grain to bulk up in our tummies and feed to cattle which should be fed grass anyway.  Growing hemp (which is illegal in our country)  can also  help with our deforestation of the globe as it is a hardy fast growing  plant (no need for pesticides!) to use for making paper products and many many other useful things.  Indeed, the Declaration of Independence is written on hemp. Vilsak had some promising things to say about the USDA’s plans to help to improve school lunches, but it all comes down to business as usual in politics.  Those who have the money (corn lobbies) will always win over those who don’t (children receiving free lunches).  Who will pay the cost?  All of us.  If any of these politicians will just look to the bigger picture here.  What cost should we bear?  The cost of losing the money from the corn growers or the cost of losing human lives to obesity and diabetes?  There is no middle ground here.  We need a Secretary of Agriculture who is committed to the people of the United States of America not to the corporations of America.  Mr. Secretary, I implore you, stop the U.S. tradition of catering to our corn industry.  Give our children healthier food and give our farmers a better crop to grow!

Of Course We Didn’t Get the Olympics

Picture after picture of Chicago fans with their mouths dropping open seemed so ridiculous to me. Our city is in crisis! The following is actually a comment I posted to my fellow Chicago Moms Blogger, Miss Lori’s article, Dead Children Walking. I was so worked up over it. Then I decided I liked what I said so much that I wanted to post it here too. You should read what she says about the terrible tragedies that have befallen our inner-city youth. My response was:

I remember volunteering at a charter school in Pilson and one of my duties was to stand outside to usher the teenagers in so that there was no loitering outside the school. “Loitering makes them targets for drivebys,” I was told. Believe me, my heart beat a little faster every time a car drove by during that half hour. I can’t imagine what these children go through every day walking around the neighborhood. The very fact that people (Daley especially) were “shocked” that we didn’t get the Olympics proves that most people, while they are quick to say, “Oh isn’t that a shame about all those young people dying?” Really don’t understand the severity of the problem. Of course we didn’t get the Olympics! While to the naked eye from all the cool tourist spots like Millenium Park, the Museum Campus, and Oak Street Beach, we look like the perfect city on the lake, we simply can’t hide the ugly truth about our children any longer. Generations have been and are growing up without parental involvement. We can’t put all the blame on the teachers, as those in the past like Valis and Duncan liked to do. We can’t rally the parents, because they are too busy struggling with addiction, poverty, lack of health care and gangs to pay attention to whether their young one has clean underwear or has a bedtime story to read. However, we can’t throw up our hands and give up! Something drastic and radical has to be done. If it means year round schooling with longer school days just so we can give the kids a few hours of supervised play on a playground, a place to do laundry and a decent dinner before sending them home to bed, then it has got to be done. Maybe we need boarding schools? If the parents won’t parent, then we’ll have to do it. Of course all of this would be very expensive, but if we don’t pay for it now, believe me, we’ll all pay for it later.

Getting the Flu Shot May Mean a Worse H1N1

When it comes to immunizations, especially new ones, I’m skeptical. Now Canada is reporting that getting a seasonal flu shot may make us more susceptible to the H1N1 flu. Anyone heard about this here in the USA? I was considering the flu shot for Eva and Charlie (not the H1N1, too new for me), but now I think I’ll just take my chances and bulk them up on vitamin D. Let’s all pray the for-profit driven pharmaceutical industry hasn’t sold us out yet again.

Say Bye Bye to the Health Care Insurance Industry, PLEASE

medical_clipart_stethoscopeIt is time for a Single Payer Healthcare System. Obama promised us something good when it came to health care, but he wants to keep the insurance companies satisfied. He’s selling out already. He admitted that if he were “starting from scratch” this is the kind of health care system we would have. Let’s start from scratch and kick those insurance companies to the curb. Lets see those kahones of yours Mr. President! I’ve been praying and voting for health care for everyone for as long as I can remember (no thanks to the Clintons, who promised universal coverage and failed). After watching a wonderful interview by Bill Moyers, I was convinced that the single payer system is the way to go. Read the transcript if you can’t watch the video. All of your questions are addressed candidly such as: Will there be long lines to see the doctor?” (Maybe. All docs will remain private, but there may be some longer waits for some of us) and “Won’t the government be deciding our medical care? (No. The doctors will be back in charge of treatment, not the insurance companies or the government. In fact, many doctors are already in favor of this plan because it will mean they can get back to treating patients instead of figuring out loopholes in insurance claims). Will it cost us more? (No. In fact, 95% of Americans will be paying less for medical care, and we’ll all have it!) The insurance companies are for-profit administrative jungles designed to deny us health care. That is the best way they make money. The billions and billions of our money put toward their administrative entanglements will go directly to medical care. Our libraries, police and fire stations are already functioning well under this same system. We need it now! The biggest problem is getting rid of the insurance industry altogether and this is precisely why this better system is not even being considered! This is wrong! Tell your representatives to put Single Payer on the table!!!

Saberi is Free!

Just heard the good news, Roxana Saberi was freed!  I hope she comes home and NEVER returns to that ungrateful country!