On August 12, 2009, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senate Health Committee Chair Tom Duane, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, City Harvest Executive Director Jilly Stephens, and other officials and advocates to call for legislative and policy initiatives to improve child nutrition and combat obesity.
The officials gathered in support of a five point plan developed by Gillibrand and Quinn that would overhaul the Federal Child Nutrition Act, increase Federal funding for school meals, improve nutrition programs for infants and pregnant women, and provide more appetizing and nutritious meals in schools through procurement of local food and other means. The Child Nutrition Act is due to be reauthorized in Washington this fall.
As so many New York City children face the threats of both hunger and obesity, strong efforts must be made to improve the Child Nutrition Act, Kavanagh said. He stressed the importance of ensuring that children who live in areas like Manhattan, where both costs and median incomes are greater than they are in other parts of the country, are not denied access to needed child nutrition programs because of one-size-fits-all eligibility criteria. By increasing access to low-cost and free meals for children who live in high-cost areas, we can help all of our children stay healthy and increase their opportunity for success in school and in life, he said.
Kavanagh noted that in addition to the immediate benefits of good nutrition, well-funded school-based breakfast and lunch programs also serve as a form of experiential learning, giving children the opportunity to develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime.