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Strategic Alliance  

June 7, 2011

221 Oak Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel: 510.444.7738
Fax: 510.663.1280



Dialogue on Food and Activity
Rapid Response Media Network

Substantial federal efforts to address unhealthy children’s food environments have been made in recent months including the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Food Marketing to Children.

Now an agriculture appropriations bill, approved last Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee, threatens to undo the noteworthy strides outlined above by significantly defunding these – and other – important initiatives. Other programs at stake include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and international food assistance programs.

Here are some of the stories:

  • An article in the Washington Post describes the pushback against these public health measures, citing some lawmakers' argument that “meals containing more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy will cost an additional $7 billion over five years — money the country can ill afford in difficult economic times.”
  • A spokesman for the chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s agricultural subcommittee referred to the Interagency Working Group’s marketing standards as “classic nanny-state overreach.” "Our concern is those voluntary guidelines are back-door regulation," he said, making it clear that legislators are justifying defunding these proposals by dismissing them as overregulation.
Read how some advocates are countering these criticisms and voicing their support for important federal initiatives.
  • In her recent blog post, the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Margo Wootan challenges the proposed cuts to improved school lunches, stating the child nutrition law “will help protect children's health, support local schools to serve healthier meals, and get the most out of the national investment in the school lunch and breakfast programs.”
  • An article from the Center for American Progress details how imprudent the proposed cuts to nutrition assistance programs truly are, citing that “one additional day’s worth of tax cuts for millionaires would be enough to prevent cuts to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.”

Take Action

  • Submit comments to the stories mentioned above.
  • Write a blog, op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper in support of policy efforts to create healthy food and activity environments.
  • Submit comments on the Interagency Working Group’s proposed nutrition and food marketing standards by the July 14 deadline.

Here some angles to cover in your online comments, letters to the editor, blogs, and op-eds: 

  • We can’t afford not to invest in prevention. Preventable illness and chronic disease related to unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity accounts for nearly 17% of our health care costs —that’s $168 million a year in medical costs alone. Policies that improve school foods and limit the marketing of junk food to kids are critical strategies if we are to reverse unprecedented surges in Type II diabetes and an array of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. 

  • We need policies that protect children and families, and that means stronger government oversight of food marketing. The current system puts the onus on parents to shield their kids. But when food marketers have access to children in schools, in stores, on television, and increasingly on the internet, parents have the odds stacked against them. Limiting the reach of junk food marketing helps shift the balance in the right direction. After all, parents can't do it all alone.
  • The government has always had an important role to play in promoting public health.  From child safety seats to taking the lead out of paint, our government has a long, proud history of using policy and systems change to protect the health of our children, families and communities.  Kids didn’t use to be automatically put in carseats—parents couldn’t buy them or afford them, cars didn’t accommodate them, and our culture didn’t support them. Public health changed that. And today, in our community, we want children and parents to take for granted that the places they live, work, play, and learn are going to support them in healthy eating and physical activity—not make it harder.

Did you pitch a story, submit an editorial, or get something in the news?
Send us a quick note so we can make sure your efforts are recognized.


The Strategic Alliance is reframing the debate on nutrition and physical activity away from a focus solely on individual choice and lifestyle towards one of environmental influences and corporate and government responsibility. Current Steering Committee members are: California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness Program (CANFit), California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA), California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Park and Recreation Society (CPRS) , California Project LEAN, California WIC Association (CWA), Child Care Food Program Roundtable, Latino Health Access, Partnership for the Public's Health, PolicyLink, Prevention Institute, Samuels & Associates, and Public Health Law and Policy.

The Strategic Alliance is currently engaged in building a broad and diverse statewide membership. To join or for more information, please visit us on the Web, www.eatbettermovemore.org, or contact Phebe Gibson at 510.444.7738 or Phebe@preventioninstitute.org. And even if you're already a member, please forward this message on to your colleagues so we can continue to strengthen our coalition. Thank you!

The Strategic Alliance is reframing the debate on nutrition and
physical activity - from a focus solely on individual choice and lifestyle,
towards one of environmental influences and corporate and government responsibility.
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