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Historic Opportunity to Advance Health and Nutrition of our Kids

On Tuesday, President Obama and I took another step towards eliminating childhood hunger and improving the nutrition, health, and wellbeing of all Americans - particularly our children. At a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., I detailed this Administration's vision for a healthy America and the goals we will achieve to get there. Good nutrition is not only vital to the long-term health of children; it is an integral part of improving academic performance and ensuring future generations are competitive in a global economy.

I asked to speak to members of the media today because it was critical that we call attention to the millions of children fed through our child nutrition programs and directly impacted by the work of USDA. I strongly believe that the school nutrition programs we oversee at USDA can lead the way to improve diets, promote physical activity, and advance nutrition education of America's children.

With the recent launch of First Lady Michelle Obama's childhood obesity campaign, Let's Move, we will combat the epidemic of childhood obesity through a comprehensive approach that builds on effective strategies and mobilizes public and private sector resources.

You might be surprised to learn that childhood hunger is a public health crisis and at the same time nearly one-third of all children in America are obese or over-weight. At USDA we are focusing our energies and resources on solving both of these challenges.

Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act presents an opportunity to make sure the federal government's commitments are met. That includes the Obama Administration's historic investment of $10 billion in additional funding over ten years to improve access and serve more nutritious meals. As the Secretary explained, the time to act is now. Government, stakeholders and citizens are mobilizing and eager to make the necessary changes that will help ensure that Americans are healthier and that our children never go hungry.

In 2009, USDA made tremendous headway in providing families, children, and schools the choice to eat healthier. In the coming months and years, we look forward to continuing to help Americans lead healthy, prosperous lives.

In your local community, you can help solve this problem by urging local school officials to enroll in the HealthierUS School Challenge, which the First Lady recently expanded to include middle school and high school students. The Challenge motivates schools to serve healthier meals, conduct nutrition education, and promote physical activity.

But today, I ask that you join the President, the First Lady, and me in this great effort, because the future of our great nation depends on it.

See video from today's announcement.