by Haley Swartz
In advance of the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, public dialogue and political action must shift to emphasize exercise and physical education courses, in addition to a balanced, nutritionally rich diet.
Congress amends the CNA every five years to reflect new research on public health trends and refocus the goals of the National School Lunch Program. Preceding the most recent CNA reauthorization, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move!initiative to end childhood obesity in February 2010. This program reflected a new emphasis on childhood obesity within the 2010 reauthorization of the CNA, or the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. However, this law will expire on September 30, 2015.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one-third, or 12 million American children and adolescents, were overweight or obese in 2012. According to the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of Americans see obesity as a “very serious public health problem.” While 57 percent of Americans believe government should play a significant role in reducing obesity among children, only 42 percent of the public believes the government should address adult obesity.
by Gabrielle Jorgensen
The Virginia House of Delegates unanimously passed Del. Timothy Hugo’s, R-Prince William, bill to define the term “human trafficking” and make coercion and recruitment into the sex trade a felony offense. The bill, whose counterpart has already passed in the state Senate, would make Virginia the last state to incorporate sex trafficking into its criminal code. While the U.S. has enacted federal legislation prohibiting trafficking and providing a roadmap for prosecution, there exists no comparable state-level statute. This transition to a codified felony is by no means a symbolic gesture. Human trafficking is not unique to Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe: it is modern enslavement, and it is happening in Virginia.
Hugo’s bill, if passed through both chambers, would be a crucial step toward addressing a particularly misunderstood and underreported crime. The current state-level deficiency makes it difficult for law enforcement to identify both traffickers and their victims or for the state to systematically collect data without an apparatus for prosecution. The lack of data, in turn, allows issues like human trafficking slide under the radar of major funding sources that could potentially help victims.
As noted by the Washington Post, Prince William and Fairfax counties in particular provide a surprisingly fertile breeding ground for the commercial sex trade.
by Grady Brown
In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama unveiled his plans for free community college. Surely one of the highlights of the address, the plan would offer two years of community college free to students who maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5. The plan was largely based on the Tennessee Promise and is aimed at giving more students feasible pathways to higher education and, potentially, a four year degree. However, should the proposal make it to the floor, it will face a fight in Congress.
One of many areas of debate will simply be the price tag. In his recent 2016 budget proposal, the President outlines the cost of free community college. In 2016 alone, the plan would come at a price of $1.36 billion. By 2023, the price tag would be closer to $9 billion, bringing total costs to over $60 billion. Obama wants the federal government to pay 75 percent of the tab, leaving the remaining 25 percent to the states. Nevertheless, Republicans will be deeply concerned about program costs.
Another concern that may not be in the spotlight, is the current track record of community colleges. According to arecent study by the National Student Clearinghouse, just 15 percent of students started at a two year institution in 2006 actually completed a degree at a four-year institution within six years.