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Duval County Food Summit Hopes To Change How Kids Eat

Duval County Health Department

The Duval County 2013 Food Summit has an ambitious goal this year; change the way children eat.

The summit will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Schultz Center for Teaching & Leadership in downtown Jacksonville.

Dr. Laureen Husband of the Duval County Health Department, and director of Healthy Jacksonville, said the goal is to build an accessible food system by cooking delicious, healthy meals that are not costly or complicated.

Chef Ann Cooper, a renowned TED speaker known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” said processed foods and chemicals contribute greatly to the country's childhood obesity epidemic.

Cooper said she never started out to be a school food advocate until she realized why much of today's food is making children sick.

"Big companies spend $17-20 billion dollars a year marketing junk food to kids," Cooper said, adding that companies use profit as motivation, rather then children's health

Husband said parents should be aware of what their children are eating when they are away from home.

"We have an opportunity to influence our children's eating choices in order for our community to be healthier," Husband said.

Cooper said parents must take a more active role with their children if she wants to change their relationship to food.

She encourages parents to cook, shop and garden with their kids. She said it is even more important for families to force the issue, since children do not get a vote on what they eat.

"If we want to change that, we need to make healthy, whole foods part of the core value of the family," Cooper said.

Husband said children are not the only concern for the summit.

She said more than 73,000 Jacksonville residents live in food deserts, where they have no access to healthy food choices.

For more information, visit the Duval County Health Department's website.

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