PTA PEW Training – Guest Blogger

National PTA is excited to have guest blogger Justin Raber share his experience attending the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project media training in February hosted by the Pew Charitable Trust. Raber has been an active PTA member for over a decade and currently serves as West Virginia PTA’s President-Elect Elected West Virginia PTA President-Elect in 2011, Justin is the youngest elected officer in the history of West Virginia PTA. Throughout his time with PTA, Justin served as the first-ever youth member for West Virginia PTA, an At-Large member of National PTA’s National Council of States and a member of the National PTA Committee on Diversity. Justin has presented a number of trainings and workshops for both West Virginia PTA and National PTA.

As PTA members, we truly want every child to receive the best nutrition on a daily basis at school and home. Over 40% of the calories consume by children

In the picture L-R: Sara Peebles, Alaska PTA; Justin Raber, West Virginia PTA; Deloris Irving, Mississippi PTA; Susie Weinacht, Iowa PTA

each and every day comes from the food they receive at school. Whether it is their breakfast, lunch or a snack they grab from the vending machine, the foods they eat at school should be healthy.

I, along with three other PTA leaders from across the country were fortunate enough to be able to attend the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project media training in February hosted by the Pew Charitable Trust. This event taught us the valuable information regarding competitive foods that are available in schools throughout the country. Competitive foods are items that are accessible outside the school lunch program, which includes vending machines, cafeteria à la carte lines, school stores and snack bars. Those foods are often low in nutrition, but high in fat and calories.

This spring, the USDA will be releasing minimum guidelines for states to follow regarding competitive foods in our schools. The ultimate goal of these guidelines will be to ensure that all foods and beverages available in schools are healthy, which means our kids will be healthier. By encouraging our children to choose healthier choices in what they eat, that will in turn help bring lessons that are learned at school home with them. Our schools need to support the healthy habits that our parents teach!

Over the past three decades, our children have become less healthy, which is leading to serious, long-term health problems for many children. PTA has a long history of advocating for and providing programs that will help our children become and stay healthy. By working together, we can have a huge impact on the healthy foods that are available to our children at school, and as PTA, we can truly make a difference!

– Justin Raber

For more information on National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles program, visit

In December 2010, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act. This legislation made important updates to the School Lunch and Breakfast programs, including improved nutrition standards for school meals and all foods sold during the school day. The USDA is expected to release its proposed rule on Competitive Foods by mid-June. To stay updated on this issue – and other public policy updates – sign up for the PTA Takes Action Newsletter at National PTA’s 2012 Public Policy Agenda can be viewed at