A new bill before Washington D.C.'s council this week aims to get the district's kids to shape up by offering healthier foods and more exercise each day at school. The bill would include school nutrition and physical education standards that would be among the strictest in the nation, requiring low-calorie and low-fat meals, free breakfasts, and triple the physical education that children currently receive.
The Healthy Schools Act would set calorie and fat limits for both breakfast and lunch meals, ban trans fats, and require that schools offer only non-fat or low-fat varieties of milk. It would also require that schools offer free meals every morning to students in the classroom (reducing the stigma and hassle for poor kids that must rush to the school cafeteria early to get breakfast.) And it would up the amount of time that kids spend in P.E. from 45 minutes each week to 150 minutes.
With these new requirements, the district is hoping to achieve the coveted "Gold Certification" from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for school lunches that exceed the basic (and cheaper) federal standards for nutrition in school lunches. Only 650 schools nationwide have achieved this coveted designation.
Council members propose to pay the estimates $23 million (over four years) for this ambitious new program via a citywide soda tax that would generate roughly $16 million per year.