SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Friday told educators and school nutrition officials at a major conference to keep fighting against childhood obesity and urged them to oppose President Trump’s proposed cuts to food and nutrition programs for the needy.
Torlakson spoke at the last day of the Ninth Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference in San Diego. The conference is the largest in the nation dedicated to combating child obesity and draws nearly 2,000 attendees.
“We know that students who come to school hungry, malnourished, or food insecure cannot learn as much,” said Torlakson, a former high school science teacher and cross country coach. “They fall behind. They are sick more often and absent more often. They are more likely to drop out.”
Torlakson praised successful efforts to get junk food and soda out of schools, to expand access to healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, and to create school garden programs. He applauded community partners such as libraries for working together with student nutrition professionals to expand summer meals.
Torlakson said he was deeply disturbed by budgets coming out of Washington D.C., and from the President that propose significant cuts to critical programs such as food stamps, aid for women with young children, after school programs, and revisions to the Affordable Care Act that would eliminate health insurance for millions of families and children.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s so wrong,” Torlakson said. “These cuts would hurt the most vulnerable children and families of California. We must do everything we can to stop these cuts and to educate Congress about the tremendous value of these investments in nutrition and health and how they are connected to academic success and, ultimately, a stronger nation. These programs help our students compete in a fiercely competitive global economy and have healthy and productive lives.”
For example, the president wants to cut $200 million from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (W.I.C.). The program provides baby food, fresh milk, and other nutrition to nearly 1.5 million eligible women, infants and children each year.
About 23 percent of California children live in poverty, according to a report released earlier this year by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.
And the president proposed cutting 25 percent over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps and officially called CalFresh in California. CalFresh helps feed 4.4 million people each month, making sure they can get healthy and nutritious meals instead of cheap junk food
The conference was hosted by the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, The California Endowment, and Kaiser Permanente.
Torlakson is serving his second term as superintendent and has started several health and nutrition initiatives for schools.
For more information, visit the California Department of Education’s website or by mobile device. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.