Congressman Jared Polis wants kids to have healthy lunch options

Categories: The Dish

Polis.jpg
No Lunchables would be found in this congressman's childhood lunchbox.
No tater tots or fruit cocktail were harmed in the upbringing of Congressman Jared Polis. No Cheetos or Little Debbie snack cakes either for that matter.

In fact, Colorado's second district congressman says he brought his lunch to school every day when he was growing up. What was packed? Usually a sandwich, yogurt and carrots or celery, he recalls. Dried fruit a lot of times, and "sometimes, like, almonds."

What about snacks? Polis appears to have been just as healthy in his snacking habits as he was during school lunchtime. "I used to snack on carrots sometimes, dried fruit too." Nori strips even occasionally made Polis's snack list.

That's so Colorado, right? According to Polis, not exactly.

In many states, including Colorado, the school lunch is the most nutritious meal a child may get for the day, he claims, and with typical meal options like pizza, chicken patties, french fries and hot dogs, and an absence of vegetarian and lactose-free options, the average child's health outlook isn't all that sunny.

"They don't get the kind of choices I did," Polis says. "Many times, it's their most substantial meal of the day," he adds. Polis's concern, on the heels of the momentum First Lady Michelle Obama has built around the issue of child obesity, inspired him to introduce the Healthy School Meals Act back in March.

H.R. 4870 will enable schools to offer healthier meal options as well as remove restrictions on providing non-dairy alternatives to milk. The bill currently has 65 co-sponsors, Polis says, as well as a short list of celebrity endorsements including Ellen DeGeneres, Scarlett Johansson and Tavis Smiley.

Even now, Polis maintains the healthy eating habits he picked up as a child. "I'm very diet conscious," he admits.

A typical day includes a small breakfast, like cereal, oatmeal or a hard-boiled egg, lunch at the zero-waste Capitol cafeteria, and if he's not having a working dinner, he'll again head for cereal, supplemented with dried fruit or yogurt, or maybe a quesadilla.

He admits it's tough to maintain healthy eating habits with the rigors demanded by his job. "It's easy to have a bad diet in this line of work," he concedes. "There's meetings that feature doughnuts and chocolate."

Perhaps a Congressional Healthy Meals Act is on Polis's horizons?


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