WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined Cleveland native and Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher to welcome a team of 25 students for a lunch focused on making healthy choices and eating a balanced meal. The students, who attend MacFarland Middle School in Washington D.C., are mentees in the London’s Bridge Foundation, started by Fletcher in 2003. The London’s Bridge Foundation mentors underprivileged and underrepresented students—in Cleveland, Ohio, Washington, D.C, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Buffalo, New York—in leadership, teamwork, education, and healthy living.
“Staying healthy and eating nutritious food is critical for success both in the classroom and on the football field,” Brown said. “Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic. And sadly, more and more of our children are food insecure—without reliable access to nutritious foods—or their families live in ‘food deserts,’ areas where fresh produce is not readily available. We’ve got to show our children that fruits and vegetables aren’t just healthy, but delicious too—and can help them live long, healthy lives.”
A Cleveland native and graduate of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School and John Carroll University, London Fletcher has played for the NFL since 1998 for the St. Louis Rams, the Buffalo Bills, and the Washington Redskins. Fletcher was a 2010 finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, a four-time Washington Redskins Man of the Year and was the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1998. He won a Super Bowl Championship with the Rams in 1998, was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2011, and has never missed a game in his 14-year career.
Brown, a leading Senate voice for ending childhood hunger and ensuring that students have access to nutritious meals year-round, joined Fletcher to welcome the students to the U.S. Capitol. Brown and Fletcher walked a lunch line with the students, helping them select nutritious, balanced meals that will allow them to lead active, healthy lives. As part of the London Bridge Foundation’s commitment to encouraging daily exercise and physical activity in young adults, Fletcher and the students also took a walking tour of the Capitol prior to lunch.
In June—with a record two out of every five Ohio students qualifying for free or reduced-price school lunches—Brown held a news conference call to discuss the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP ensures that students who depend on nutrition assistance through the school lunch program don’t go hungry during summer months. The SFSP is administered by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and is run locally by approved sponsors, including school districts, local government agencies, camps, or private nonprofit organizations. In January, Brown convened a statewide forum at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank aimed at addressing the SFSP. Brown convened the summit to ensure more children can receive nutrition assistance during the summer months.
While serving as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition, and Family Farms, Brown wrote the Hunger-Free Schools Act, which would help reduce paperwork and enroll already-eligible students in childhood nutrition programs through direct certification. Brown’s bill was the centerpiece of the anti-hunger component of a new law, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. During Agriculture Committee consideration of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Brown successfully passed two bipartisan amendments to the legislation. One of those amendments, a piece of legislation offered with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), ensures greater access to summer feeding programs for children. Another amendment, offered with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), authorizes a pilot program to provide affordable organic choices in school feeding programs. This program is a crucial first step in proving the viability and value of organic foods in the over 30 million school lunches served each day.