Chef Sam Kass and national faith leaders discuss the importance of engaging faith communities, advocating for nationwide state-level policy changes
Washington, D.C. —White House Head Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass addressed national faith leaders this morning at an unprecedented meeting to bring greater attention to the nationwide childhood obesity epidemic.
The meeting, hosted by the Campaign for Healthy Kids and Let’s Move! Faith and Communities, welcomed 19 faith representatives from around the country, including: Rev. Eileen Lindner, Chair, Health Care Task Force, National Council of Churches of Christ; Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President For Public Policy and Research, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Barbara Baylor, Minister for Healthcare Justice, United Church of Christ.
Jim Winkler, general secretary for the General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church, wrote about the role of faith communities in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic for The Huffington Post earlier this year. He was encouraged by how many different faith communities are committing to joining the fight.
“As one who has attended many a church potluck dinner where healthy food options are limited, I know that churches have a choice: we can model unhealthy or healthy eating habits,” Winkler said. “United Methodist Churches across the country engage in significant children's ministries every day, and I am happy to be able to say that many of our churches have initiated food pantries, community gardens, and many other important health-related initiatives. Churches must be part of the solution so that we can arrest disturbing health trends, including an uptick in Diabetes Type II, heart disease and high cholesterol in young children.”
Many of the faith leaders traveled to Washington, D.C. from other states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. The aim of the event was to identify opportunities for the faith groups to increase and promote wellness and healthy lifestyle options in their congregations and states; implement more health and fitness activities per ministry; and urge Mr. Kass and First Lady Michelle Obama to support the state-level policy change initiative, Targeted Coordinated School Health.
Targeted Coordinated School Health, modeled after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coordinated School Health, addresses the relationship between health and learning. Through a district-level coordinator, it promotes policies and practices that integrate nutrition education into health and physical education, and nutrition services, and makes physical activity a component of the entire school day through wake-up warms-ups, classroom physical activity breaks, and active recess.
Faith leaders from around the country have embraced Targeted Coordinated School Health because it resonates with the core tenet of all religions: protecting children. The Targeted Coordinated School Health model embodies the leaders’ call to promote social justice and empowers them to be local leaders by implementing healthful practices in their congregations and communities.
About Faith United
Faith United to End Childhood obesity was formed by the Campaign for Healthy Kids to advance the obesity-related policy change necessary to create sustained and scaled improvements in children’s health. Faith United includes faith groups representing diverse views and perspectives. Uniting the group is a desire to promote children’s health through policies that embody the principles of effectiveness, equity, and local leadership.
About Campaign for Healthy Kids
The Campaign for Healthy Kids was created in partnership by Save the Children and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reverse the alarming statistic that nearly one in three children and adolescents are diagnosed as obese or overweight. The Campaign works with local partners to advance state-level and local policy change to increase access to affordable healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. Learn more at: www.campaignforhealthykids.org.