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Being a Friend of Child Nutrition

By Dayle Hayes, MS, RD

Receiving the Friend of Child Nutrition Silver FAME Award from the School Nutrition Association was one of the greatest honors of my professional career. As is the case with any honor, I believe that this one comes with serious responsibility.

Ever since I found out about the FAME award last fall, I’ve been thinking about how to be the best possible friend of Child Nutrition Programs moving into 2012. It’s sure to be an intense year – especially since First Lady Michelle Obama is announcing new Meal Patterns for school nutrition programs today.

To be perfectly honest, I toyed with the idea of giving up my work in child nutrition. By the end of 2011, I was worn down by the pizza-as-vegetable food fight, the ongoing debate over flavored milk, and the whole war on childhood obesity.

So, I have taken a few months to thoughtfully consider the issues, as well as my own beliefs and actions. I asked myself tough questions and have found my own, independent way through this very divisive – and very important – issue.

First, while I firmly believe that reasonable people can disagree, the current battle mentality and war analogies are not in the best interest of our children’s future. Our children deserve our best efforts to work together – as school nutrition professionals, school food reformers, school food manufacturers, and school food regulators. Only by reaching across the divides between us can we find solutions for School Meals That Rock – in all districts across Montana and the US – given the very real limitations on resources of money, time, and space.

So, here is my simple manifesto for 2012 – to be a real BFF for Child Nutrition, I will:

Consider all the evidence.

  • I promise to look carefully at the science as well as the passion for change. While vigorously supporting outstanding programs, I will also document ways to implement changes in those districts where school meals definitely do not rock.

Search for common ground.

  • Both the letter and spirit of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and new USDA regulations for meal patterns are critical for kids. Given the realities of federal, state, and local budgets, it is going to take creative collaboration to implement changes.

Celebrate every success.

Dayle HayesDayle Hayes, MS, RD
Author, Speaker, and Nutrition Therapist

Dayle Hayes is a registered dietitian committed to innovative, delicious nutrition solutions for busy families. As a consultant to Billings Clinic, she specializes in positive nutrition tips, eating disorders, and sports nutrition. Dayle graduated from U. Mass-Boston and received a Masters of Science in Community Health Education from U. Mass-Amherst.
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