This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
I am Karen Devitt, the parent of a 7th grader at SSI middle school, here today to introduce Real Food for Kids – Montgomery (RFKM), the organization I co-founded with Lindsey Parsons, another MCPS parent. RFKM is a grass-roots, parent advocacy group, committed to helping MCPS serve delicious, fresh, whole and nutrient-rich foods to the children in our community. We seek to collaborate with MCPS, recognizing that wholesome food is an educational investment that leads to academic success, improved behavior, and better health outcomes. RFKM currently has representatives in 40 schools with a goal of at least one parent in each school. Our first priorities include: improving communication and transparency about what is served in the schools; eliminating products with harmful additives; and surveying snack items in order to propose healthier alternatives. As the largest school system in Maryland and a leader in so many ways, we believe MCPS has the resources, expertise, and committed parental voice to effect positive change. There is a growing body of evidence that many physical, behavioral, and cognitive problems in children are due to the “Standard American Diet” (SAD): a diet of added sugars, preservatives, and highly processed foods. In the last two decades, the four childhood diseases of Asthma, Autism, Allergies and ADHD have exploded to near epidemic proportions. Significant research links these problems to diet. In 2010, more than one-third of children were overweight or obese. If the trend isn’t reversed, about 1 in 3 Americans will develop Type 2 diabetes by 2050. This high rate is linked to sugar intake: per capita sugar consumption in the US has quintupled in the last 20 years. Currently MCPS cafeterias and competitive food offerings support these unhealthy food trends. For example, every day of the school year MCPS sells chocolate and strawberry milk with more sugar than a Hershey’s chocolate bar. Efforts to remove or limit the availability of this product would be a good step. Removing chemical additives from MCPS food would also make a positive difference to all children, and especially to those who are chemically sensitive. Imagine the improved lives and cost savings if only a small percentage of the over 17,000 students receiving special education and related services would need fewer such services. With a 32.3% FARMS rate overall, we have a responsibility to provide the best possible food we can for students, especially for those whose only source of food may be MCPS. I am here to ask for your collaboration and support in our mission. I’d also like to invite you to our inaugural event, a screening of Cafeteria Man this Friday at 7:30 pm in the Takoma Park Community Center. It’s going to take a village to create real change in MCPS cafeterias. We hope this film will inspire you and many others to join us on this journey. Thank you.