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Keep School Lunches Healthy

school_lunch_beef.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleBy Sylvia Mathews Burwell, HHS Secretary

​Co-Authored by: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Every parent has dreams for their child. We want them to grow up strong and healthy. We tell them to dream big and work hard so that they can be anything they want to be. We want them to take the world by storm.

As parents, we lay the foundation for our children’s future success, but we know that we can’t do it alone. We rely on people like pediatricians, other health care providers, teachers and other school professionals to act as our proxies. We entrust them with the task of helping our kids grow up smart, strong and healthy because, as parents, we believe that they will make decisions in our children’s best interests. And that applies to what our children eat when they are away from home, especially at school.

The updated school meals standards introduced across the country in 2012 are undoubtedly improving the quality of school meals as well as the health and well-being of our children.

A handful of vocal critics will tell you otherwise — that school meals were better in the “old days.” But the old days are no longer acceptable, not when our children are battling an obesity epidemic that impacts the long-term health of the American people and, according to retired U.S. generals, threatens our national security by making almost one in three young adults unfit to serve in our nation’s military.

America has the second highest obesity rate in the world. The cost of treating obesity-related illnesses is a shocking $190.2 billion per year, dragging down our economy and increasing budget deficits. Updating the school meals with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods — and less fat, sugar and sodium — is the right thing to do for our kids. Doctors and other health care providers agree, which is why the healthier school meals were developed based on their recommendations.

The bottom line is that these meal standards were developed by our nation’s best doctors, nurses, dieticians and scientists — not our politicians. These medical and nutrition professionals know better than anyone that healthy options mean healthy kids, and later, healthy adults.

Some predicted that kids would reject healthy food and throw more food away, but a recent Harvard study showed that, thanks to the updated standards, kids are now eating 16% more vegetables and 23% more fruit at lunch. Another study, published earlier this month by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, reiterated that point, showing that kids are eating more of the healthy food and throwing less food away.

On school meals, parents and kids see eye to eye. A September 2014 survey by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that most parents (72%) support strong national nutrition standards for school meals. Another study, published last July in Childhood Obesityfound that 70% of middle school students and 63% of high school students like the school meals. As these studies show, the new school meals are a success.

Doctors and public health professionals know that healthier people are also better for our economy. Healthy people go to the doctor less and have fewer medical expenses, miss fewer days of school and work, and are more successful in the long run.

Over 90% of schools are meeting the updated guidelines, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is continuing to provide hundreds of millions of dollars, training and other support to help all schools successfully serve healthy food to our children. As Congress is turning its attention toward the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and some are seeking to modify or even roll back the healthier nutrition standards in schools, it’s worth remembering that these nutrition standards were passed through a bipartisan act of Congress and based on the expert opinions of health scientists and physicians. Any changes to these programs should be based on the science and recommendations of medical experts.

Anything less is just unacceptable.

 

Survey seeks opportunities for growth between insurance companies and diverse businesses

By McKenzie Jackson/California Black Media

California’s African-American-owned businesses are among a group of corporations that the California Department of Insurance (CID) would like to see have a bigger stake in the Golden State’s $257 billion insurance industry.

During the Diversity Task Force meeting held Monday CID Commissioner Dave Jones said his office is focused on finding ways to increase diversity in procurement and governing boards within the insurance industry.

“I am talking in particular about women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and [disabled] veteran-owned businesses “who typically want a chance to have an opportunity to compete,” he said., To know where those opportunities are, and to have an opportunity to build their businesses for their families, for their communities, and for their employees.”

In an effort to do this, next month the CID will be administering the 2015 Insurer Supplier Diversity Survey, which will require the state’s top premium issuing insurance companies to report their procurement efforts with Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBEs). Two years ago, the bi-annual survey found that in 2012, 207 insurance companies awarded 1,300 contracts worth $930 million to businesses owned by members of those subgroups. Sixty-six of those enterprises were headed by African Americans.

Jones, who has been Insurance Commissioner since 2011, said California, which has the largest insurance market in the country, is home to one-fifth of the nation’s minority-owned businesses and 1.1 million women-owned corporations; the highest numbers tops in America. However, he said, more cooperation is needed between those businesses and insurance giants such Allstate, Farmers Insurance, and Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.

“What a tremendous opportunity that would be to bring these two segments of our economy together,” he said.

During the two hour meeting, Jones and Naveen Habib, one of CID coordinator’s for the Insurance Diversity Initiative, went through a draft of the two-part diversity survey. Jones also introduced the 2015-2016 Insurance Diversity Task Force, a 15-member body composed of economic and legal specialists from across the state. The group is charged with making recommendations for bolstering the number of MBEs, WBEs, and DVBEs that partner with an industry that is vital to how businesses in California operate and how families and communities make sure their health and safety needs are addressed.

Jones said all the committee members share the common goal of striving to create greater diversity in the insurance trade.

 

“I am confident the wide array of expertise our new Task Force members bring will benefit our work in meeting these goals,” he said.

 

Task Force members and other businesspersons and insurance reps listened to the meeting by phone and chimed in as Habib went over the survey’s six-point questionnaire and survey chart.

The questionnaire asks insurance companies if they have a supplier diversity policy statement, a supplier diversity program, conduct outreach specifically to diverse businesses, set internal targets or goals in regards to its supplier diversity statement, and the name and contact information for their supplier diversity operations.

 

The chart features tables that divide the total amount of funds companies reveal they spent on WBEs, MBEs, and DVBEs. The chart also features headings that allow companies to pinpoint exactly what type of minority businesses won contract benefits. The headings include “Advertising/Marketing,” “Financial/Investment Services,” “Claims Services,” “Facilities,” “Human Resources,” “Information Technology,” “Office Supplies,” “Print Services,” “Professional Services,” “Telecom” “Real Estate,” “Travel/Entertainment,” and “Other.”

 

“We have been working very hard to make improvements on the survey,” said Habib.

 

Like the 2013 survey, this year’s survey will be sent to insurance companies that wrote premiums of $100 million or more. Two years, ago the survey revealed that out of the $241 million that went towards MBEs, African-American-owned businesses received the third lowest amount. Black businesses finished ahead of Native American-owned businesses and multi-ethnic-owned corporations, but finished below the dollars that went towards businesses categorized as owned by Other/Unknown (63.3 percent), Hispanic (16.6 percent), and Asian Pacific Islander (11.9 percent).

 

Task Force member Janice Brown, the owner and founder of San Diego-based Brown Law Group, said a number of insurance firms are part of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and that they spend funds in legal expenses with many minority or women-ran law groups.

 

“I do think there is an opportunity to cross reference the people and the organizations that are a part of NAMWOLF with this initiative,” she said. “If corporations and organizations are spending money on outside counsel with diverse and women-owned companies they are known to have strong diversity initiative programs.”

 

Jones said there is a lot of opportunity for growth due to the huge economic engine the insurance business is in California.

 

“I think we are making good progress,” he said. “That is going to be the job of the new task force to focus on how we grow from this. We have gotten good feedback from insurance companies.”

“Enter the Oracle – The Matrix!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

Whether you know it or not there is a tremendous war raging around us in the Spiritual realm. The battle is on-going. It is not on our terms. We don’t decide when we want to fight or when we want to withdraw. The Bible clearly shows that God will ultimately win the war, but until that time the battle will continue to rage. Prepare for battle for we have been called to war­­—one in which the ultimate stakes hang in the balance. There is effort involved—energy must be expended. The reward—eternal life! You must allow nothing—no entanglements or distractions—to avert your attention.  In order to win this war there are three common enemies that we must face before we go into battle. These mighty foes are in league against us. They are crafty, cunning and lurking about, ready to attack at every opportunity. They seek to confuse and overwhelm us and wear us down. Their ultimate goal is to kill us, to take away eternal life. These three enemies are self, society and Satan. Every ounce of energy and effort must be put forth to gain victory over them.

Our first deadly enemy, self. Our carnal human nature with all of its inordinate lusts. As 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “As long as we are in the flesh, we will have to battle our carnal human nature” because our natural mind is a stronghold against God. It does not want to be conquered; it does not want to submit to the will of God. It is the enemy of God and is even against the very knowledge of God. It wants—and will try—to destroy you! The self wants to do its own thing and think its own thoughts. It will cleverly rationalize all it wants to do. It is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” and seeks only to bring forth the works of the flesh. It wants us to violate God’s Spiritual law, enticing us to sin. By doing this, it can cut us off from God. Unless we successfully wage and win the war against self—it will destroy us!  We must “[cast] down every imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and [bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” It is an ongoing battle for control of our mind—a battle that we must win at all costs! Our second deadly enemy, this presents evil age. The society that surrounds us. All it has to offer looks very appealing, alluring and glamorous. It brims over with the latest electronic gadgets, trendy clothing, fast cars, pleasures, thrills, excitement, and on and on. This world appears to be wrapped with everything that glitters and is gold, because it is built upon and motivated by the products of human nature—vanity, lust, greed, etc.— in which we are naturally drawn to it and, if not on guard, caught up in it. Yet, this is what our attitude toward society should be: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” We must carefully examine our ways to see if they conform to God’s ways or the ways of this world. Take this admonishment to heart—your life depends on it! Our third great deadly enemy, Satan the devil. As the “god of this world” and “the prince of the power of the air,” he works in the children of disobedience and injects his attitudes into their unsuspecting minds. What we have to realize and know is that we are not alone in our daily Christian warfare. As a spiritual army, we have the greatest Commander-in-Chief possible—God the Father. He has called us—drafted us—into His army to fight against our three great enemies {self, society, Satan.} He has not left us defenseless, unable to fight against our foes. He has given us the most powerful force in the universe, His Spirit, which is available to us at all times. Our orders come from the “Captain of [our] salvation” and the “Author and Finisher” of our faith—Jesus Christ.  And as our Captain, Christ will lead and help us in battle, and to absolute victory.

Our Armor – like any good battlefield commander, Christ has thoroughly equipped His army with tried and tested battle gear. It is essential that you know what each piece of this armor is and what it is used for, and to never go into battle without it. Neglecting or forgetting any part will leave you exposed and unprotected. Stand therefore, having your loins girded about with Truth. This is a critical piece of the Christians armor. Having our loins “girt” with the truth protects and insulates us from the fiery darts of the devil. Truth must be firmly secured about our waist—attached to it is the breastplate of righteousness and hanging from it is the sword of the Spirit. Losing any part of the truth leaves the breastplate of righteousness loose and allows the sword of the Spirit to fall on the ground. If this happens, we are leaving ourselves exposed to fatal injury. The Breastplate of Righteousness is obedience to God’s commandments which brings automatic blessings and protection from God. The Gospel of Peace is the good news of the soon-coming, world-ruling kingdom of God—to be established when Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of lords, bringing true and lasting peace to a tired, dying and hopeless world. The gospel provides a solid footing, allowing us to dig our heels in and stand our ground against our enemies.  The Shield of Faith is the faith of Jesus Christ and it is this faith that enables us to conquer and overcome. This faith will see us through the many trials and temptations that Satan throws in our path. It is a defensive weapon that grows ever larger and stronger with diligent use, eventually covering our entire body. The Helmet of Salvation is the knowledge of what salvation is, what it involves, how to achieve it, what it is all about—the purpose of human life. Being armed with this helmet guards us against the blows of the enemy. It protects against the feelings of doubt and depression that Satan desperately wants to inject into our minds, in an all-out effort to cause us to give up. Without the helmet of salvation, we will fail to remember why we were born—and we will also forget what we are fighting for! The Sword of the Spirit is the written Word of God. This is the only offensive weapon a Christian has in fighting the devil and his devices. While it may appear to be the same as being girded with the truth, it is slightly different. Hanging from the truth, all of God’s Word—it is drawn from it, cutting the enemies’ strategies and tactics to pieces. Every soldier of Christ must master the use of this weapon, keeping it firmly in hand. After we have put on the armor of God, Paul’s final instruction to us is to “[Pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit… This is the final thing we must do in the battle against all our enemies. We must draw close to God in persevering, fervent prayer, asking for more of His Spirit, His help and His protection—along with the strength, desire and determination needed to fight each and every battle. If we faithfully, diligently adhere to the commander’s orders, we can and will win the war for His glory. God is rooting for us….Call to Arms!