Funding the Healthy Schools Act. Again.
11/30/10 | | 4 comments
To testify in front of the DC City Council is normally an exciting event. Today however, my experience mostly evoked sadness.
I was there to speak on behalf of the Healthy Schools Act, and it felt like just yesterday I was doing the same thing. After all the hard work we put into securing the funding for that seminal piece of legislation, they are trying to pull the rug out from under us. Let me be more specific. When I say they, I mean lame duck Mayor, Adrian Fenty. It is the burden of the DC government to, every year, balance the budget and, as one of his last acts as mayor, Fenty is attempting to use the money we secured, independent from the existing budget, to close his fiscal gap.
The passage of this budgetary plan would mean literally stealing healthy food from the mouths of DC's students. The Healthy Schools Act was voted unanimously into law six months ago, and has been implemented since August 23rd. This has meant fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria, time spent exercising outdoors to curb the obesity epidemic, as well as a guaranteed free breakfast to any child in need. The money to fund the Act was secured through a six percent sales tax on sugary beverages, the revenue from which is an estimated eight million dollars. Again, this tax was established solely to fund the Healthy Schools Act, but now Fenty wants to take this "easy" money in order to balance his budget.
I had to testify because I know how good healthy school can be for a child's education. In DC we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, our youth do not eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day, nor do they get the recommended amount of physical activity. With the passage and implementation of the Healthy Schools Act, we have begun to see results, and yet they want to cut this program off at the knees. We are the only ones who can solve this problem, and once more, we need to rally. We need to give a voice to the youth of our city who are not afforded a vote. Please email or call your local councilmember - their information can be found here - and demand that they find another way to balance the budget. Sacrificing the health and wellbeing of our children is not an option.