By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
The fight for veggie lunch options in public schools is landing on Capitol Hill, the White House, and Sidwell Friends School, where the Obama girls are students. Wyntergrace Williams, the 14-year-old daughter of TV's Montel Williams, is coming to Washington to lobby Congress to amend the Child Nutrition Act to add veggie options and is sending a letter to Malia and Sasha Obama asking for their assistance. "We want as much support as we can get on this," says Williams, an eighth grader at Central Middle School in Greenwich, Conn.
In the letter to the Obamas, provided to Whispers, Wyntergrace writes: "My name is Wyntergrace and I'm a big fan of yours. It seems that we have a few things in common. We all love dogs, live on the East Coast, have fantastic moms and maternal grand moms and both of our dads are quite famous. In our household we also eat healthy foods and I am working on a school project to get healthier foods in schools across the country. I would love for you to join my campaign and sign my petition and encourage other students and families to follow our own and respective families' lead."
Williams plans to join two Capitol Hill hearings Thursday and Friday with Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to lobby for the change. Williams says she also plans to speak at Sidwell Friends. In a statement, Barnard said, "President Obama's daughters attend a private school that offers healthy vegetarian options that all students should have access to. But most schools only provide meatless meals if Congress pushes them to do so."
The White House had no comment.
Williams told Whispers that she wants to leave a legacy in her school and public schools around the country of promoting veggie lunches. She argues that if schools provided a vegetarian option, more kids would choose it, thus cutting obesity. Also, she notes that some of her friends simply skip lunch because the options are usually fatty and loaded with sugars and salt.
Wyntergrace went veggie, she says, about four years ago. But she has never liked meat, much to her parents' dismay. Even at Thanksgiving, when her parents would urge her to eat traditional turkey, she'd balk, saying that turkeys shouldn't have to die to celebrate Thanksgiving.
In its bid to improve the National School Lunch Program, the physicians committee is also producing a TV commercial featuring Williams.
Here's her letter to the Obama girls:
Greenwich , CT April 29, 2009
Miss Malia and Sasha Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500 Dear Malia and Sasha,
My name is Wyntergrace and I'm a big fan of yours. It seems that we have a few things in common. We all love dogs, live on the East Coast, have fantastic moms and maternal grand moms and both of our dads are quite famous. In our household we also eat healthy foods and I am working on a school project to get healthier foods in schools across the country. I would love for you to join my campaign and sign my petition and encourage other students and families to follow our own and respective families' lead.
The problem is that many schools do not offer enough healthful choices. This is especially true when it comes to vegetarian meals. A lot of us ask for vegetarian meals out of compassion for animals, like I do, or because of concerns about health or the environment, but all students would benefit from having a variety of healthy options, and other plant-based meals available.
I'm glad that Sidwell Friends already has these healthy options in the cafeteria, and we need to make sure that children at other schools have the same opportunity for good health.
If we work together, we can make sure all students are able to eat healthy school lunches. I've created a petition to get healthy vegetarian lunch options in all schools. Would you please sign my petition at HealthySchoolLunches.org? And please ask your friends to sign, too. Thank you for helping me with my project and I would love to get together with you both sometime!