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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

American Heart Association: Decorate a Plate

Urge NC Senators to Improve Child Nutriton at School

Next spring, colorful paper plates with drawings of healthy foods will adorn the N.C. General Assembly. Thanks to an effort led by AHA partner, the American Heart Association, paper plates decorated by children and parents will be presented to North Carolina senators as they head into session to consider legislation that would improve child nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages sold in schools.

It’s all part of the American Heart Association’s “You’re the Cure for Healthy Kids—What’s On Your Plate?” campaign. Launched statewide, the plate campaign supports efforts to pass legislation that would require the N.C .State Board of Education to adopt national nutrition standards consistent with those of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation School Program or the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine for foods sold outside of the school meal program. This includes food sold in vending machines, school stores and through other means to students.  
To help in the effort, AHA collected plates at Kidsfest , a Raleigh Parks and Recreation festival, on a recent Saturday afternoon and at “Lunch In” held at Hunter Elementary School last week.

“We are working to provide healthy choices before and after school, as well as throughout the day,” said Betsy Vetter, N.C. Director of Government Relations for the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association, an AHA partner. “Particularly in high schools, where students are staying late for activities and sports, what’s in the vending machine often becomes dinner. Bill 503 would ensure that healthy options are available throughout school buildings,” Vetter said.
The American Heart Association focuses on an advocacy effort each year through its heart walks.  Rather than using postcards, this year Vetter said they decided to use the visuals of paper plates as a tool to rally public support and make an impact with state legislators.

The Need for Healthier Foods in School

Studies show that children consume up to 47% of their total daily calories at school. In addition to cafeterias, nearly all schools offer competitive foods including a la carte items, vending machines or school stores at which children have access to food. A recent national study found that 40% of students consumed or more competitive foods on a typical school day. The most popular foods included juice drinks, cookies/cakes/brownies, chips, candy and carbonated soda. “We have to give students healthy choices, whether they are in the cafeteria, the vending machine or the school store,” Vetter said.

The Plate Campaign

American Heart launched the campaign last month in Raleigh and around the state. “At three heart walks so far, we’ve collected over 500 plates, and a school in Charlotte with 1,400 students plans to participate,” Vetter said.
The campaign is a fun and simple way to engage people in support of the issue. Participants are invited to decorate the front of the plate, and then include a simple message on the back, along with their contact information to encourage their senator to support improving child nutrition standards in schools. (Home street addresses and zip codes are essential so that people can be matched to their senators.)
American Heart encourages children and parents to include a simple message such as these:

  • Support healthy kids!
  • Help prevent childhood obesity in North Carolina.
  • Help our kids have healthy food choices
  • Support improving child nutrition in NC schools.
  • Kids need nutritious foods to live a heart healthy life.

Once plates have been decorated and the necessary home address information is on the plates, they can be sent to:

Betsy Vetter
American Heart Association
Mid-Atlantic Affiliate
3131 RDU Center Dr., Suite 100
Morrisville, NC 27560
Plates collected through April will be brought to the NC General Assembly for the Capital State Lobby Day in May. If you have questions about the plate campaign, please email Betsy Vetter.

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