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A School Meals Shout-Out



he Inside Track knows that people like you are frequently asked to support various causes, but only rarely do you know whether the work you did actually accomplished anything. That’s why we’re so thrilled to share the great news that the Obama administration hasn’t just noticed the 135,000 comments sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in support of improved nutrition in school meals — they’re excited about it, too.

We attended the Atlantic’s Food Summit held in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, where prominent officials and experts weighed in on food-related topics like sustainability and the obesity crisis. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan kicked off the day-long event, sharing with the crowd the agency’s ongoing efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.

Merrigan then mentioned that the USDA just wrapped up its comment period for improved nutrition standards in public schools, adding that the agency is "working diligently" to implement them and noting that it received an unprecedented 135,000 comments during the period.

Astute Inside Track readers already know that worked with our partner groups to send well over 130,000 comments to the USDA, asking them to require that school meals feature fewer unhealthy calories and include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious foods. So we were excited to hear that Merrigan and her colleagues recognized the effort — but that wasn’t the only shout-out.

Later in the day, White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass, who works closely alongside First Lady Michelle Obama on her Let’s Move! campaign, also noted 135,000 comments were received by the USDA during the comment period. Kass seemed blown away by the number, noting that "normally when there’s a proposed rule you get like, 5,000" comments.

"That’s just unbelievable," he said of the 135K number, adding that the new nutrition standards should be unveiled over the next several months.

So thanks to you, network, and our friends at the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, American Heart Association, Jamie Oliver Foundation, Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Urban League, MomsRising and the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.

It’s clear that our message was heard.

Put On Your Dancing Shoes. Singer Beyonce finally unveiled her official "Move Your Body" video on Wednesday, designed to promote first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign by having children hit the dance floor.

The video will be released in schools across the country on May 3. At 1:42 p.m. eastern time, students at many schools will perform the video’s at-times complicated choreography, wrapping up weeks of practice. Fortunately, for those of us who haven't been practicing (or have two left feet) there’s an instructional video available on the website of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation, which is sponsoring the dancing effort.

Winning the Conference. Last week, The Inside Track told you about the upcoming Sixth Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, slated for June 28-30 in San Diego, Calif. Now we hear that conference organizers are offering up a free registration to the big event. To enter the contest, "like" the obesity conference’s official Facebook page and fill out the official entry form. The sweepstakes runs through May 20.

Get Your Webinar On. will host a series of webinars in May designed to help folks get to know the website better. Next Tuesday, May 3, Rebecca Frank will host a webinar introducing the main features of the website, followed by another on May 10 showcasing our blogger outreach tools. Click here to sign up or send an email to [email protected].