The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) have announced an allocation of $1.1 million to five organizations, claiming to, “investigate and dismantle barriers to equitable access in federal child nutrition programs. The initiative, titled the Equitable Access in Child Nutrition Programs project, seeks to enhance the effectiveness of programs crucial for the well-being and development of children across the nation.”
We, at Moms Across America, think that any funds targeted towards improvement of school lunch access should include enhancement in the form of sourcing food without GMOs, glyphosate (a proven neurotoxin and carcinogen), other toxic chemicals, heavy metals, veterinary drugs and hormones and food with more nutrients. The current food supply, including current school meals, is so low in essential vitamins and minerals as to make it virtually impossible to even get the minimum daily requirements children need to function and develop normally.
This funding, while well intentioned, could go either way: more of the same toxin-laden, depleted, processed food served more often to more children (equitable means more children of african, indigenous or hispanic descent), or better sourcing of food for school meals. By better sourcing, we mean not just sourcing locally (which could still mean high levels of contaminants), we mean sourcing to reduce dangerous agrichemicals and heavy metals. Moms Across America calls for parents and school officials to come together and push for these funds to actually work in a meaningful way.
For millions of underserved children, school meals are the only meals they consume. School lunches contain many genetically modified (GM) crop ingredients such as corn, soy, and sugar and are processed with GM oils such as canola and soybean. Despite the strides made by programs such as USDA’s National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Nutrition Programs, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program in reducing childhood hunger, concerns have arisen about the quality of food provided. Moms Across America independent lab testing has revealed the presence of neurotoxic glyphosate, dozens of harmful pesticides, disturbing veterinary drugs and hormones, high levels of industrial chemicals and heavy metals in the food. While expanding access to meals is a positive step, the Equitable Access initiative must get the toxic agrichemicals out of the food supplied to schools for it to have a meaningful impact on children’s health.
Through various studies such as those by Barbara Reed Stitt, author of Food and Behavior, the Natural Connection, as well as a recent mental health study on glyphosate exposure and mental health, mental health disorders have been directly linked to exposure to toxins and the lack of nutrients in the food supply. “A new study shows that these effects on mental health may be at least partially explained by the recent discovery that glyphosate is neurotoxic, affecting the brain. This affects our children’s behaviors and ability to concentrate in addition to contributing to depression, aggressive behavior and violence, as discussed at length in the study.
Agrochemicals such as glyphosate have been proven to negatively impact the gut microbiome, which is not only the stronghold of the immune system, but is also where Serotonin and Melatonin are made – important hormones that influence mood, sleep, and risks of developing depression, violent and obsessive behavior, as well as suicidal and homicidal thoughts and actions. Our kids deserve better.
In Stitt’s twenty-year study of inmates: parolees, criminals, and serial killers, she discovered that they all had one thing in common. It was not their socio-economic background or race: They "all bragged that they live on junk food.” In addition, they were deficient in important vitamins, specifically Vitamin B’s, which are essential for the processing function of the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that is utilized in good decision-making and correlated with aggression.
When Stitt removed processed junk food from the inmates’ diets and they were given whole foods, the recidivism rate reversed. Instead of 70% of the inmates returning to prison, 70% stayed out of prison. Similar results resulted in a high school of 5000 children; instead of 500 students dropping out in a year, with whole, real, less processed foods, the drop out rate went down to 14 and a significantly higher number went on to graduate from college. Imagine what an impact it would make on children’s mental health if the grantees of these enormous funds prioritized a sourcing whole, real food free much like Stitt’s program.
The Equitable Access in Child Nutrition Programs project comprises several subgrantees, each tasked with investigating specific aspects of the child nutrition programs. This provides the Moms Across America community an opportunity to educate those with the funds on what toxins are in the food supplied to schools and ask for real changes in sourcing of truly healthy food. Moms Across America has sent letters to each of these organizations and we think it will make a difference if you do the same. Please take a moment to make a call to the four of the five orgs that deal with food quality, send an email, or post on social media to raise awareness among a few of these groups and hold them accountable for how they spend our tax dollars:
Johns Hopkins University; General Questions: [email protected] (410) 516-8000: The grant states, “This institution will focus on creating new measures of school meal quality with an equity lens. The research will include assessing the perceived quality and cultural relevance of meals provided through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.”
*Let’s tell them what food quality really is and demand they make access to organic, regeneratively grown food a priority in this program.
San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Metropolitan Health District (sanantonio.gov) Contact & Connect - City of San Antonio; (210) 207-8780: The USDA press release states, “This public health agency will investigate systemic barriers and social and environmental factors that hinder Black and Latino youth (ages 12-18) in low-income and low food access areas of San Antonio from participating in the Summer Food Service Program and Afterschool Meal Program.”
*Let them know that the real issue is the food that low-income communities have access to is lacking in essential nutrients and contains disease-causing, nutrient-binding, and neurologically damaging chemicals.
Hunger Solutions Minnesota Find Help - Hunger Solutions contact them through the “How We Can Help You?” Tab. The USDA press release notes, “This nonprofit organization will explore the impact of Minnesota’s Free School Meals for All program on Black, American Indian, and Latinx youth. The research will assess both the positive effects of the program and the barriers faced by students in accessing school meals.” These toxins in the food supplied to schools don’t see skin color. Let’s educate this organization on the real issues with the school meals.
Feeding Kentucky ([email protected]) (502) 699.2656: “This nonprofit will focus on researching barriers at the state agency, sponsor, and site levels concerning the access to summer meals, including non-congregate meals, and Summer EBT. The study will particularly emphasize issues related to rural access.”
*Again, the problem is NOT only access to food, it’s access to food that is actually healthy and provides the minimum nutrition requirements in non toxic form.
- Most importantly, contact FRAC.org, the organization that has issued the subgrants, and share this important message with them. You can also comment on their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, to help drive these programs in the right direction.
The Equitable Access in Child Nutrition Program claims the project signifies “a crucial step towards not only increasing participation but also ensuring that the nutritional needs of children are met with high-quality, safe, and healthy food options.” However, the most important aspect of this is sourcing of food. Let’s hold these grantee organizations to this statement and insist on sourcing from organic, regenerative, local farms and equipping schools with “scratch kitchens,” so they can actually cook real food again (most cafeterias no longer cook, just microwave frozen meals). Funds could also go toward school garden programs for the enrichment of children’s minds and bodies and a non toxic source of salad greens, fruits and vegetables. Specifically, these sub grantee organizations could partner with programs like School of Lunch to fund schools' access to real food that is local, seasonal, and is not loaded with toxic chemicals.
We, at Moms Across America, look forward to seeing your reels, posts, comments and hearing about your successful phone calls and emails to activate these organizations for meaningful change. Please share your efforts with us here and on our social media platforms, linked at the bottom of this page. Together we can seize this opportunity to direct funds to make a real impact on children’s health.