In her role as national leader focused on leading research and policy efforts to improve school nutrition, Tracy Fox of Food and Nutrition Policy works and has worked with the likes of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Partnership for a Healthier America, Nemours Foundation, public health departments and educational agencies, grocery store chains and public relations firms.
According to No Kid Hungry, a campaign to end child hunger, about 1 in 5 children are not getting enough food. For so many of these children, especially in low-income areas, school might be the only place where they can receive healthy food. That’s why leaders in the childhood obesity movement have long tried to encourage the USDA to lead on setting healthy food standards in schools. However, so far they have struggled to create a tipping point with large numbers of individuals and families calling for action.
Leaders across the country led campaigns through PreventObesity.net, and mobilized more than 230,000 Supporters to raise their voices in support of two key rules: limiting the types of food and drinks that can be advertised in schools, and strengthening competitive foods guidelines around the types of foods that can be sold outside of school meal programs (for example, in vending machines or school stores).
PreventObesity.net Supporters submitted the vast majority of total comments received by the USDA around the food marketing and competitive foods rules. Leaders were able to reach thousands more advocates than just those in their own personal and organizational networks. Encouraged by the overwhelming sentiments from Supporters, the USDA moved forward with implementing stronger competitive foods and food marketing guidelines. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled final nutritional standards in January 2012, and schools began to implement them the next school year. Because of the work of the coalition, school meals are the healthiest they have been in decades. White House Chef Sam Kass said, “Normally when there’s a proposed rule you get like, 5,000...That’s just unbelievable."