Legislation by Assemblyman Parker Space to combat the growing obesity problem was approved today by the Assembly Education Committee. The Smarter Lunchroom Act (A3444) promotes healthy food choices in school cafeterias and passed by a 9-0 vote.
“If kids learn to eat healthy when they’re young, it will help them live more fulfilling and rewarding lives, and avoid the diet-related illnesses that plague American society,” said Space (R—Sussex, Warren, Morris). “This isn’t about forcing kids to eat ‘good food’ and banning fattening foods from the cafeteria. We want to present healthy options and teach kids to make nutritious decisions when they go through the lunch line.”
The legislation embraces the Smarter Lunchroom movement founded by researchers at the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs.
“Almost 25 percent of children from age 10 to 17 are overweight in New Jersey,” said Space, adding that in the U.S., more than one-third of all adults are classified as obese, and almost 70 percent are overweight.
“Our society has a problem with poor food choices, and research indicates it will only get worse in the future,” continued Space. “Getting to students early and teaching them healthy habits is a simple way to change the trend and save lives.”
The bill requires the Education Department to implement Smarter Lunchroom strategies in schools, including prominently placing fruit and other nutritious foods near the cash register, and putting healthy lunch options first in the serving lines and on the menu.
“This is an opportunity to introduce students to delicious Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables grown by our local farmers,” said Space, who has sponsored numerous bills encouraging schools to serve produce harvested nearby.