Topic

USDA

14 petitions

Started 2 months ago

Petition to Brandon Lipps

Healthier school lunches for American children

There is an epidemic of obesity in America. Every state in the USA has at least 22% adult obesity and American children are not exempt from this public health issue. Utah has the lowest rate of childhood obesity with 19.2% of children age 10-17 overweight or obese in 2016. Children form their habits by the age of 9, so after that age, it becomes difficult to change behavior. In school, children are exposed to unhealthy foods and junk food vending machines. Even if parents help their children understand how to eat well, unless they pack their lunch (which is something I personally recommend), they will still be eating junk at least once per day for 175-182 days each year. Here's the problem: the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has guidelines in place about balanced meals in schools, but they are not good enough nor are they being enforced. In 2011, congress stated that pizza sauce counts as a vegetable. Also thanks to the colossal misstep by congress, some schools serve french fries every day since the 2011 bill does not keep them from over-serving starchy vegetables. (To read more about the bill, click here.) Aside from the bad food choices, children do not have enough time to eat in school. The USDA states that schools should ensure that every child has enough time to eat and that lunch should be at any time from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. However, they do not give any specific guidelines for the length of time that children should have to eat. The typical school lunch lasts for 30 minutes. In theory, that's plenty of time, but if you account for the time taken to walk to lunch, stand in the typically long lunch line, and find a seat, kids really only have about 15 minutes to eat. Considering that it takes 20 minutes on average for people to feel full, a 30 minute lunch period is not long enough. To give you a personal story about why this issue matters to me, I'll tell you about my experience at school. For one, I almost never finished my lunch before the lunch period ended. I always either took the rest of my lunch to class, or wastefully threw it away. If I did happen to finish my lunch and I wasn't quite full, I got something from the vending machine. The healthiest food item that you can get from my school's vending machines are pretzels. See the problem? Pretzels aren't healthy. So really the only healthy thing that is offered in vending machines is water. In my health class in high school, an obese teacher told me that obesity was bad and would lead to disease, right before she guzzled a Coke. My point is, learning how to eat well in school is impossible with the current meal standards and hypocritical role models. Children learn habits in adolescence and 180 out of 365 days each year are spent in school, so doesn't it make sense that schools should prioritize the health of their students? A healthy mind is influenced by a healthy body, and healthy bodies depend on healthy foods. So who can help resolve this issue? If you would like to contact your FNS regional representative, click here. To contact the national FNS office, click here. To contact the Department of Education representative in your area, click here and select your state to see local contact information. Please share this petition so that we can try to make a difference together!

Sara Kearns
524 supporters
Update posted 2 months ago

Petition to Carmen Rottenberg, James Snee, Luis Marconi, Sonny Perdue, Paul Kiecker, Hormel Foods

Not So Fast, USDA: Stop the Unhealthy & Inhumane High-Speed Slaughter!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to expand a flawed pilot program that allows select slaughterhouses to dramatically speed up their slaughter lines, while simultaneously pulling back on government oversight. I recently worked undercover at one of these pilot facilities, and captured on video the shocking ways this program fails to protect animal welfare—and American food safety. Please join me in telling USDA and Hormel it’s time to stop this high-speed, reduced-inspection pilot program, known as HIMP. By shifting key inspection responsibilities to the slaughterhouses themselves, while also allowing these plants to operate at extremely high kill speeds, this program is allowing animal abuse and food safety problems to increasingly go unchecked. Consumers deserve more, not less, oversight in food production. Before going undercover at Quality Pork Processors in Austin, Minnesota, I knew that I would see appalling abuses and nightmarish animal suffering—that’s unavoidable at a slaughter plant, especially one that processes 1,300 pigs each hour. But what I didn’t expect was how rare it would be to encounter a government inspector, or how many pigs would be processed into SPAM or other Hormel products despite being sick, injured, riddled with pus-filled abscesses, or covered in feces. Even knowing what I did about animal cruelty, I naively believed that the government was at least making sure that the food supply was safe—but I don’t believe that anymore. Now, I know that our government has rubber-stamped a program that gives the profit-driven pork industry free reign to “monitor” itself. I documented plant employees, under pressure to keep up with the facility’s high operating speeds, dragging, kicking, beating, and excessively shocking pigs. I even saw pigs regaining consciousness on the slaughter line—a major violation of federal law. Let’s demand that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service live up to its name and do just that—meaningfully regulate and inspect our nation’s slaughterhouses. It can’t continue to bow to pressure from industry giants like Hormel. We must end this high-speed slaughter program, which replaces highly-trained inspectors with untrained, industry employees—with devastating results for animals, workers, and consumers. In Solidarity, Scott David (former Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator) October 2017 Update: With a proposal to expand the dangerous HIMP pig slaughter program on the horizon, chickens and turkeys are facing a similar threat. The industry has petitioned the USDA to lift the current maximum line speed of 140 birds per minute (that’s already more than 2 birds every second!). Such a waiver of the cap would essentially allow plants to operate at any speed—a serious danger to animals, workers, and consumers.In 2015, I worked inside Mountaire Farms in North Carolina—operating at speeds of up to 140 birds per minute. I saw live birds being thrown into piles with the dead as workers only had time to perform split-second checks of their condition, fallen birds being thrown across the room, and birds having their heads caught in the shackles as workers rushed to keep up. As investigations and government inspection records reveal, improper shackling can even lead to the kill blade slicing birds open in places other than their throat, and the birds then entering the scalding tank alive. Yet the industry has ignored these risks in a sly attempt to line its own pockets by trying to make slaughter lines run even faster. Please join me in telling the USDA, “Not so fast!”

Compassion Over Killing
248,499 supporters