Four-time NBA champion John Salley teamed up with Olympic gold medal-winning track star Allyson Felix on an initiative that will push for healthier eating in schools across the United States.
Salley, Felix and other celebrity figures met with Congress members on May 5 to co-sponsor the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010, H.R. 4870, a bill that offers new opportunities to improve school lunches and fight childhood obesity.
Under the bill, kids would be privileged to fruits, vegetables and other healthy plant-based products, instead of the “mystery meat” and other less healthy foods currently offered in schools.
The Healthy School Meals Act is currently backed by more than two dozen Hollywood stars, along with 51 co-sponsors in Congress, including Rep. Elijah Cummings and other respected members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“If you want to get anything major done in this country, you have to know how to approach Washington, and that’s why I got involved,” Salley told the AFRO. “I look at it this way. If I don’t do this, we’re going to have a country full of sick people dying at young ages because of what they’re eating and that’s the truth.”
According to Salley, 1 of 3 Americans born after 2000 is projected to develop diabetes because their diets aren’t healthy enough. He says this especially pertains to African Americans.
“Most of the time in the Black community, folks are still eating slave food,” said Salley, who is a converted vegan. “Folks will parts of the chicken or parts of the swine that nobody else wanted to eat during those times. Pig ears, pig feet, or chitterlings. Don’t call it chitterlings, call it what it really is—pig guts. None of that stuff is good for the body.”
Most schools aren’t serving pig ears in the lunch line, but the mystery meat they do serve may not be any healthier. Salley believes providing better alternatives, like veggie burgers and real orange juice instead of juice from concentrate, will go a long way in the fight against childhood obesity.
“It’s important for folks to know that I’m not against meat, I’m for fruits and vegetables, just like I’m not against war, I’m for peace,” Salley said. “I’m for whatever is best for my people and I say if we have the best to offer, why not offer it?”