Thursday, March 14, 2013

UPDATED- Agriculture Secretary to Deliver Major Speech on Health and Nutrition

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today outlined the need for a generational commitment to improve childhood nutrition, which will lead to a healthier generation of Americans. While health and nutrition are complex topics, Vilsack noted USDA has made significant focus on improving consumers' access to information and helping consumers have better access to food, which together will ensure progress as the nation battles both childhood obesity and malnutrition. Vilsack made his remarks at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at the Maine Medical Center where he was joined by Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, and representatives from the medical, nutrition, public health, education, military, and business communities.

"We must continue to take action today to ensure that today's young people grow up healthy and strong, or we will see more challenges – everything from soaring health care costs to diminished national security and decreased business competitiveness," said Vilsack. "Improving the nutrition of our young people has tremendous implications for our country's future."

Over the course of the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity nearly tripled. Nearly one in three American children and adolescents today are overweight or obese. Some of those children come from low-income families, where access to healthy food choices and opportunities for physical activity can be limited. Nearly a third of our nation's young people are at risk for preventable diseases like type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Preventable diseases have serious consequences – which is why health experts tell us that our current generation of children may well have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Vilsack said that USDA empowers Americans to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice:

  •  USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities. The resources are based on scientific information included in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  •  USDA created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight, and track physical activity.
  •  USDA education programs target these materials to recipients of food assistance programs to ensure they are well-informed and able to make healthy choices.

Vilsack also noted that American agriculture provides our nation with the tools we need to increase the availability, affordability and variety of nutritious food. American agriculture provides more than 80 percent of our food supply here at home, and U.S. families allocate a smaller percentage of their salary for food prepared at home than the people of any developed nation. He outlined USDA's efforts to help families provide the nutrition children need, by taking steps to increase access to healthy foods:

  • Through the Know Your Famer, Know Your Food initiative, USDA has worked to increase access to nutritious food through the development of strong local and regional food systems. The number of farmers markets increased by more than 67 percent in the last four years and there are now more than 220 regional food hubs in operation around the country.
  • USDA is making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible for low-income families. More than 3,200 farmers markets and farm stands are now authorized to accept payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), an increase of nearly 100 percent since 2010.
  • USDA launched a new $5 million Farm to School grant program in 2012 to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools. In its first year, the grants are supporting 68 projects serving nearly 2 million students.

Vilsack noted that USDA continues working with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Let's Move! initiative, which is helping to promote healthy eating and physical activity while empowering Americans to combat childhood obesity. Through the combined efforts of USDA and its partners, the United States is beginning to see progress and improvements in the health of our Nation's children.


TODAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will visit with officials from the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine to deliver a major speech on USDA efforts to improve childhood nutrition and prevent obesity to raise a healthier generation of Americans.

Secretary Vilsack will discuss USDA’s efforts to focus the national conversation on the importance of childhood nutrition, and the need for bold solutions to promote proper nutrition and increased physical activity for today’s youngest children. He will highlight the complexity of the challenge we face today and efforts to ensure the availability, affordability and range of options that will help ensure our children get the right nutrition to grow up healthy and strong.

Following his remarks, Secretary Vilsack will visit the U.S. Coast Guard Station in South Portland, where he will highlight the importance of nutrition to America’s military readiness. Today, only a quarter of Americans aged 17 to 24 are eligible to serve in the armed forces – in part because many are overweight or obese. He will hold a media availability on the Coast Guard station.

USDA has been focused on efforts to improve the health and nutrition of the American people in recent years and released the new MyPlate federal nutrition guidance graphic, published the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and continues to implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act law to upgrade school meal standards for the first time in more than 15 years. USDA also launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to enable greater access to healthy and nutritious food while providing greater economic opportunity for farmers.

Thursday, March 14, 2013
10:30 a.m. EDT

WHAT: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver a major policy speech where he will discuss USDA efforts to improve childhood nutrition and prevent obesity.

WHERE: Maine Medical Center – Dana Center Auditorium
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, ME

1:30 p.m. EDT

WHAT: Photo/B-roll opportunity and media availability: Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will visit the local U.S. Coast Guard Station to highlight the national security imperative for improving the health and nutrition of American people.

WHERE: U.S. Coast Guard Station South Portland
259 High Street
South Portland, ME

No comments:

Post a Comment