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Blog: TV Show and the White House Support Child Nutrition

Jun 30, 2010 | By Maureen Book, NETWORK Intern

Top Chef D.C. fuels public awareness of the problems of hunger and obesity our nation faces and helps to make Child Nutrition Reauthorization a priority for the nation.

With First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign gaining increasing nationwide attention—especially with the recent introduction of the “Chefs Move to Schools” program aimed at connecting chefs with local schools—and with Child Nutrition set for reauthorization this year, the participation of Top Chef in this cause could not come at a better time.

In the most recent episode of Top Chef D.C. aired on June 23, White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass appears to challenge the sixteen competing chefs to a unique contest that highlights the nationwide problem of obesity and the challenge schools face to provide a healthy lunch under a restricted budget. The chefs are allotted a budget of $2.68 per child, which is the current federal reimbursement rate schools receive under the National School Lunch Program. Chefs took on this challenge with enthusiasm and creativity while struggling to purchase enough food for 50 children under a limited budget that would translate into a healthy lunch that kids would actually eat. 

All across the nation, public awareness is increasing about hunger and obesity in the United States and movements are emerging to combat these problems, from local farm-to-school initiatives to the White House’s Let’s Move! campaign. The media has also taken great interest in child nutrition; Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution sparked public interest by uncovering the truth about the quality of food our schools are serving. Now even Top Chef is participating in the hype.

I couldn’t be happier that child nutrition is becoming a priority for the nation. Reauthorization of current feeding programs addresses many of the concerns that people nationwide are voicing.  Though most media coverage has tended to focus on problems of obesity and unhealthy food and not on hunger, Tom Colicchio, head judge of Top Chef, has written an excellent blog post about his personal connection to this issue and the intricate link between food insecurity and obesity. He even advocates that lunches and breakfasts should be free for all students, highlighting the increasing stress that the recession has put upon many families.

With reauthorization of child nutrition programs set for this year, the influential voice of Top Chef here in D.C. is timely and needed to help the nation continue the buzz on child nutrition.