“A Step in the Right Direction”

Assemblyman Ortiz Praises USDA’s Proposal to Make Healthier School Lunches
January 14, 2011
Albany – Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (Brooklyn-51 AD), who has long been a leader in the fight against childhood obesity, is supporting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent proposal intended to make school lunches healthier for students.

Under the proposed new guidelines which were released by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, there are several important strategies which focus on healthy diet such as limiting calories, cutting back on salt intake, and banning trans fats while including more fruit, vegetables and whole grain food. Assemblyman Ortiz stated: “This is the kind of change that I have been advocating for years. This is the right nutrition balance that will benefit our kids and steer them away from the obesity crisis in America.”

Obesity is one of the biggest health issues that Americans are facing today. According to 2008 statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 17 percent of children and adolescents 2 to 19 years old are obese. In New York City, nearly 40 percent of children attending public schools are either overweight or obese. “This is very serious and must be addressed before things get worse,” said Ortiz.

Assemblyman Ortiz has been a leader in the fight against obesity and poor nutrition. In 2003, he created the New York State Childhood Obesity Prevention Program and in 2004, his trailblazing legislation requiring calorie information on fast food menus subsequently became the law of the land. This year, he has reintroduced legislation prohibiting restaurants from using artificial trans fats, another important factor in reducing obesity.

Assemblyman Ortiz commends the USDA for developing this proposal and vows to do whatever it takes to improve the health of all New Yorkers. He also added: “I understand that there will be opposition from those who think the government is dictating the food choices of our children. After many years of opposition, to my efforts to improve childhood nutrition I can only quote the words of Gandhi: ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’ I believe it is the responsibility of the adults to teach our children how to live a healthy lifestyle and to prepare them for a future based on proper nutrition.”