Partner Blog Post

Healthy Schools Act passes the Council unanimously

Not even Snowmageddon could hold this bill back! After being delayed for over a month due to D.C.’s two monstrous snowstorms, Mary Cheh’s Healthy Schools Act passed unanimously in the D.C. Council this week. Educators, parents, health professionals, environmentalists, students and residents alike are celebrating. Inspired by the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign, the Healthy Schools Act aims to make school lunches more nutritious, promote local food, and increase physical education. The legislation has made a big splash in the city - The Washington Post detailed the Act on their recent Sunday front page.

The legislation presently sitting on Mayor Fenty’s desk will enhance D.C.’s school lunch programs, expand physical education, and promote local food sources. One of the most progressive aspects of this bill is the creation of a city-wide school gardening program. School gardens are fantastic learning tools that give students hands-on experience with their environment, allowing them to interact with natural elements to grow their own delicious, nourishing food. With this bill, the infrastructure is being created to empower students to take charge over what they eat and be more conscious about how food is produced. What’s more, school gardens lend themselves toward study in all subject areas, and can serve as a stimulating learning space for lessons in science, math, health, and the arts. Earth Day Network’s Green Schools Coordinator Josh Volinsky testified about the benefits of school gardens at the Healthy Schools Act hearing.

Now the question is: how do we fund all of these wonderful proposals and pilot projects? Councilmember Mary Cheh is proposing a soda tax of 1¢ per ounce to finance the bill. The benefit of this seems twofold: it will de-incentivize the purchase of a nutritionally deficient substance and effectively fund the health of D.C. students. Yet the American beverage companies are already running advertisements in our local newspapers and meeting with our representatives to protest this tax. If the Healthy Schools Act is to be successfully implemented, it needs to be properly funded. A soda tax is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. Show your support for healthier DC schools by contacting your local representative to advocate for Mary Cheh’s soda tax! You can find your representative’s information here.