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CDC Study Shows Kids Love Vegetables — Except for One

CDC Study Shows Kids Love Vegetables — Except for One

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It's great that kids eat their vegetables....but how are French fries a vegetable?

The good news is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more and more kids are eating their fruits and vegetables these days. In fact, between 2009 and 2010, three-quarters of kids ages 2 to 19 ate fruit on a daily basis, and an overwhelming 90 percent ate vegetables on a daily basis (in this instance, French fries count as a vegetable since they are potato-based).

Still got picky eaters? Check out The Daily Meal's 22 Ways to Feed Your Kids This Summer

But kids still don’t like their spinach, no matter what Popeye says. Around 75 percent of kids ate red or orange vegetables like carrots and red bell peppers every day, while 53 percent ate starchy vegetables like potatoes or yams, and 60 percent ate others like cauliflower or celery. Unsurprisingly, only 12 percent ate dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, even though dark and leafy greens are considered “powerhouse nutrient foods” according to the CDC.

"If the dietary guidelines are encouraging Americans, and encouraging youth, to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, then it's helpful to know who's consuming what," study researcher Samara Joy Nielsen said.

Older kids are less likely to eat healthy fruits and vegetables, with 90 percent of toddlers eating fruit every day, and only 66 percent of teenagers doing so. But all of these numbers, said Nielsen, have nothing to do with the amount of vegetables eaten per day, and more research is needed.

For the latest happenings in the food and drink world, visit our Food News page.

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi

Viral Video Makes False and Unsupported Claims About Vaccines

A viral video makes a series of inaccurate and unfounded arguments for why people should not receive any vaccines, including those for COVID-19.

The full ingredient list for any authorized COVID-19 vaccine can be found in a variety of documents on the Food and Drug Administration’s website , including in a fact sheet for vaccine recipients that’s available in numerous languages.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines contain messenger RNA, or mRNA a variety of fatty molecules, or lipids, to protect the mRNA and a few other ingredients, including salts and sugar, to keep the vaccine stable and at a similar acidity to the human body. The Johnson & Johnson, or Janssen, vaccine contains a harmless adenovirus — a type of virus that typically causes the common cold — modified with the genetic material for SARS-CoV-2, as well as salts as stabilizing and buffering agents.

There are no preservatives, egg or latex in the vaccines.

The authorized vaccines were initially tested in early phase clinical trials, in which scientists evaluated different doses, checked for the expected immune responses and monitored for potential safety issues. To find out whether the shots prevent disease and are safe, the vaccines that passed the first set of tests were then evaluated in phase 3 trials. The Moderna phase 3 trial included about 30,000 volunteers, while the Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson trials included about 44,000 each. In each of these trials, half of the participants received a placebo, while the other half received the vaccine, and the volunteers were followed over time to see if they fell ill with COVID-19 and had any adverse reactions.

The trials were overseen by independent data and safety monitoring boards , and the results were reviewed not only by the Food and Drug Administration, which made the decision to authorize the vaccines for emergency use, but also by an outside panel of experts advising the agency. Another independent group, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, also reviewed the data and recommended use of the vaccines.

Can New Gun Violence Research Find a Path Around the Political Stalemate?

Congress quashed funding for C.D.C. gun violence research 25 years ago. But an extraordinary friendship between an agency scientist and the “point man” for the N.R.A. helped bring the money back.

WASHINGTON — Dr. Bindi J. Naik-Mathuria, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital who grew tired of seeing toddlers die of gunshot wounds, has a $684,000 federal grant to track every gun-related death and injury in Houston. The goal: identify and address “hot spots” the way epidemiologists track and contain the coronavirus.

Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, an emergency room doctor and longtime firearm violence researcher in California, is supervising scientific research on whether community interventions in Detroit and Cleveland — including the greening of vacant spaces and the work of so-called violence interrupters like former gang members — can drive down gun-related deaths and injuries.

And Andrew R. Morral, a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, a research group, is using sophisticated modeling tools to estimate rates of gun ownership in every state, with detailed demographic information. The purpose, he said, is to search for patterns in firearm homicides and suicides — a first, basic step in research that could lead to reducing them.

The recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., have once again left Democrats and Republicans in a stalemate over background checks for gun buyers and assault weapons bans. But public health experts say a new round of research could pave the way for gun policies that avoid partisan gridlock — and ultimately save thousands of lives.

The studies by Dr. Naik-Mathuria and the others are being paid for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is once again funding research into gun violence after a nearly 25-year hiatus imposed by Congress. And while they might not reduce the number of massacres, mass shootings account for an extremely small percentage of the roughly 40,000 Americans who die each year from gun violence.

“There’s at least five different gun violence problems in the country and mass shooting is one of them,” said Mr. Morral, who has a Ph.D. in psychology. “There’s also suicide, there’s urban gun violence which mostly affects minority young men, there’s family shootings and there’s police shootings. And they all have different risk factors, they all have very different motives and they often involve different firearms.”

Like cancer, there is no single cure for the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. If politicians want to make a difference, experts say, lawmakers need to quit the fruitless fights over whether liberals want to take people’s guns away and start financing — and listening to — research that could inform policies that could address the carnage.

“It’s not either, ‘Keep your guns or prevent gun violence,’ ” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who helped establish the C.D.C.’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control but said he was fired in the late 1990s under pressure from Republicans who opposed the center’s gun research. “There’s a strategy that science can help us define where you can do both — you can protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and at the very same time reduce the toll of gun violence.”

Federal money for gun research all but disappeared after Congress in 1996 enacted the so-called Dickey Amendment, which barred the C.D.C. from spending money to “advocate or promote gun control.” It was named for Jay Dickey, a former Republican House member from Arkansas, who proudly proclaimed himself the National Rifle Association’s “point man” in Washington.

In an extraordinary turn of events, Mr. Dickey, who died in 2017, befriended the man whose work he had cut off, Dr. Rosenberg. The pair grew so close that Dr. Rosenberg gave the eulogy at Mr. Dickey’s funeral.

In 2019, Dr. Rosenberg and Mr. Dickey’s former wife, Betty, a retired former prosecutor and chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, helped persuade Congress to restore the funding lawmakers appropriated $25 million, split between the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health, for firearm injury prevention research.

The agencies are now financing nearly two dozen studies, though backers of the research say the money is a pittance compared with the breadth of the problem.

“Millions of dollars have been put forth trying to figure out how do we eradicate cancer we’ve got to be able to do the same with gun violence,” said Representative Lucy McBath, Democrat of Georgia, who won election in 2018 by promising to end gun violence after her 17-year-old son was shot and killed.

“We’ve got to be able to give the C.D.C. and the N.I.H. the ability to study the implications and get that raw data, the grave implications of gun violence,” she added, “just like we do in any other public health crisis.”

Treating gun violence as a public health problem is not a new idea. In 1991, Dr. Rosenberg’s program awarded a research grant to an investigator who published a landmark study in The New England Journal of Medicine that found having a gun in the home tripled the risk of gun homicides and quintupled the risk of gun suicides.

After it was published, the National Rifle Association took aim. The Dickey Amendment was a compromise between Democrats who wanted more research and Republicans who wanted to shut down Dr. Rosenberg’s center.

Research on the effectiveness of gun policies is scant, and much of it is not rigorous enough to either prove or disprove that any of the legislation being debated in Washington would do any good, said Mr. Morral, who directs RAND’s National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research and has done a comprehensive analysis of the serious scientific literature.

The existing research suggests that one policy under consideration in Congress — expanding background checks — could make a difference. RAND has found “moderately good evidence that the current background checks system is helpful” in reducing violent crime, Mr. Morral said, and so “it seems logical to think that background checks on all sales might help more.”

There is also moderately good evidence, RAND found, that waiting periods for gun purchases reduce both suicide and violent crime. And there is strong — or what RAND calls “supportive” — evidence that laws requiring guns to be safely stored away from children reduce firearm injuries and deaths among young people.

But while President Biden has claimed that the federal assault weapons ban that lasted from 1994 to 2004 “brought down these mass killings,” the evidence of that is unclear. There are only a handful of studies, Mr. Morral said, and they do not “persuasively show a causal effect” — not because there is not one, he said, but because of shortcomings in the study design.

After the recent development of coronavirus vaccines highlighted the importance of scientific research, Dr. Rosenberg said, the public is primed to accept the argument that gun violence research can save lives. He likened it to the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government poured into studying motor vehicle deaths in the 1970s and ’80s, which led to safety measures like seatbelt requirements and lower speed limits, saving millions of lives.

That was the argument he used to help persuade Congress to appropriate money for gun violence research in 2019. The research itself was never banned outright, and in 2013, weeks after the massacre that killed 26 people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, President Barack Obama directed the C.D.C. to reconsider funding studies on gun violence.

The agency commissioned a report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council outlining priorities, but little changed. By 2019, after Democrats reclaimed the House, liberal organizations like were petitioning Congress to repeal the Dickey Amendment. Nearly every House Democrat signed on.

But Dr. Rosenberg argued it should remain intact, to “provide cover for Republicans and gun-loving Democrats who can put money into the science and tell their constituents, ‘This is not money for gun control.’ ”

Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who led the House subcommittee that oversaw the C.D.C.’s budget at the time, said she put $50 million into the appropriations bill that year, but the Senate, controlled by Republicans, eliminated it. The two chambers agreed on $25 million as a compromise, but she said she hoped to double the funding this year.

Dr. Naik-Mathuria, the Houston trauma surgeon, said she would like to see Washington address the problem of gun violence as a matter of injury prevention, not politics. She began researching methods to reduce gun violence about six years ago, she said, after seeing “kids come in dead because they shot themselves in the head when they found a gun at home.”

Her current study is aimed at determining risk factors for gun violence for children and adults, and her past work has led to some changes in medical practice, she said.

Pediatricians in Texas, she said, are hesitant to talk about gun safety out of concern that “it would anger parents or become political.” So she and her group made a broader safety video that tucked in messages about gun safety — like keeping guns locked and stored — with tips like how to keep children away from poison.

Dr. Wintemute, who directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento, said he lost grant money after the Dickey Amendment was enacted. In the two decades that followed, he said, his work has been supported by the state of California, by foundations, as well as the N.I.H., which was not specifically named in the Dickey Amendment, and the Justice Department. He said he had also spent a little more than $2 million of his own money to continue the work.

His program is receiving $744,000 from the C.D.C. this year to finance three studies. The new funding from the agency, he said, is drawing young scientists to the work.

Still, he laments the time that has been lost.

“It’s as if we had decided, ‘Let’s not do research on coronavirus, let’s not do research on cancer or heart disease, let’s just let this problem run its course,’” he said. “How many thousands of people are dead who would be alive today if that research had been allowed to continue 25 years ago?”

Around the country

College update

All eight Ivy League universities delayed their decision dates by about a week, until April 6, after a surge of applications. The influx comes after the schools made standardized test scores optional as a result of the pandemic.

Goshen College in Indiana will now require weekly coronavirus tests for students and staff members.

Dennis DePerro, the president of St. Bonaventure University, is on a ventilator after testing positive for Covid-19.

An opinion: Shradha Krishnamurthy, a student at Arizona State University, excoriated the school’s reopening plans in an opinion piece for The State Press, the student paper. A.S.U.’s decision to reopen given the current state of the pandemic shows a flagrant disregard for the health and safety of their own student and employee population, and the communities within which the university resides.”

And, yikes: Philadelphia turned to a self-described “group of college kids” to work on the city’s first and largest coronavirus vaccine center. “Chaos ensued,” The Washington Post reported. “One volunteer alleged that the 22-year-old CEO had pocketed vaccine doses. Another described a ‘free-for-all’ where unsupervised 18- and 19-year-olds vaccinated one another and posed for photos.”

K-12 update

Researchers at the N.A.A.C.P. have documented racial gaps in access to school meals, after lawyers had to sue to get students essential nutrition during the pandemic.

Arizona is vaccinating educators, but school reopening dates are still up in the air.

A high school wrestling tournament seeded an outbreak in Louisiana.

When all the cafeteria staff members at a private school in Canton, Ohio, had to quarantine, volunteers stepped in to keep students fed.

An opinion: “Biden’s message to the teachers should be straightforward and emphatic,” Matt Bai wrote in The Washington Post. “You are vital, irreplaceable public servants. And it’s time you started acting like it.”

A good read: Elite public schools in Boston tightened camera rules for virtual school, saying teachers could lower grades if students did not turn their laptop cameras on. “Some students fear the new policy puts a heavier burden on low-income students, who are more likely to live in small, crowded homes with unreliable internet service,” Jenna Russell wrote in The Boston Globe.

A helpful resource: On Tuesday, The Atlantic introduced “Homeroom,” a weekly advice column about school during the pandemic. In the first installment, Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer offer advice on coping with student frustration during remote learning.

You're Vaccinated. Congrats! Now What Can You Do Safely?

You got your shot and you're ready to get back to normal life. But what does that mean anymore? While being fully vaccinated doesn't mean it's suddenly safe to party like it's 2019, most interactions pose a much lower risk than they did before you got jabbed.

Remember, you don't reach full vaccination until at least two weeks after getting your second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So what kind of precautions do you still need to take after that?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid out some guidelines. But for many interactions, "there is no set rulebook," says Dr. Cassandra Pierre, an infectious disease specialist at Boston Medical Center. "It really has to do with your risk tolerance." And parents with kids too young to be eligible for vaccines will have somewhat different considerations.

As you go about rediscovering life outside the bunker, here are some things to keep in mind.

Listen to NPR's Maria Godoy walk through the current CDC guidelines for vaccinated people in this episode of Life Kit.

Experts say the vaccines are highly effective against the strains of the coronavirus currently dominant in the U.S. They're not foolproof, but data so far show the protection is really strong. The slight remaining risk of infection will be higher if the virus is surging in your community or variants of concern are circulating widely. So stay aware of local conditions. And remember, the more people you interact with, the higher the potential risk of being exposed to the virus.

And finally, it's not just about you. You can still pick up and potentially transmit the virus to unvaccinated people — and many Americans still aren't vaccinated. What's more, vaccines may be less effective in some people who are severely immunocompromised. So think about the risk of severe disease in the people you spend time with.

"Communication is the key here," says Pierre. "Much like prior to vaccination, we all had to talk to each other to figure out what our individual risk and activities were and what our risk tolerance was."

NPR spoke with nine infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists about the relative safety of various activities after full vaccination.

The bottom line: "If you are fully vaccinated, you should feel good about participating in things that are important to you," says Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease specialist and chief health officer at the University of Michigan. Just remember, you still want to behave in ways that reduce the risks for everyone.

With all that in mind, explore our frequently asked questions about life after vaccination.


Do I still have to wear a mask in public?

The U.S. remains in a weird limbo period with many unvaccinated people, including children too young to get the shot — so when you are indoors in public spaces, like a mall or grocery store, mask up.

"The reality is [in public], we don't know who's vaccinated and who's not," notes Dr. David Aronoff, director of the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Shots - Health News

How Is The COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Going In Your State?

Shots - Health News

CDC: If You're Vaccinated, You Don't Need To Mask Outdoors (Unless You're In A Crowd)

When it comes to outdoor activities, the CDC released guidance Tuesday that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outside except if they're attending a crowded event. Research has consistently shown that the risk of transmitting the virus outdoors is far lower than indoors.

But keep a mask handy. Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies how viruses transmit in the air, says masking outdoors still makes sense if you are standing close to and talking to someone for more than a couple of minutes — and you don't know their vaccination status.

"My general rules of thumb would be if I'm having a face-to-face conversation with someone and . they're within arm's reach for more than a minute or two, then I would mask," Marr says.

Can I hug a friend?

If you're both fully vaccinated, hug away! "All of us are longing for that personal touch," says Ravina Kullar, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist based in Los Angeles.

And if they're not fully vaccinated? "If it's somebody that I love and I want to give them a hug, I'm going to put on my mask and give them a hug, and then wash my hands. I never gave up hugging," says Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease specialist and executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

OK, but my grandkids are too young to be vaccinated. Can I hug them?

"Yes, absolutely!" says Pierre, adding, "Do not squander immunity. Do the things that are going to bring you joy that you can absolutely safely do."

Social gatherings

Can I hang out indoors mask-free with my friends if we are all fully vaccinated?

Yes, please do! If it's a small group indoors and everyone is vaccinated, it's safe to drop the masks and social distancing, according to guidelines from the CDC. But the CDC says you should still avoid medium and large-size gatherings.

How many people is too many when it comes to gathering indoors?

The CDC doesn't give a hard number for gathering sizes. Malani and Pierre both suggest a good rule of thumb is no more than 10 people. Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at the University of California, San Francisco, suggests four households as a max. Remember, it all depends on the risk factors of the people present — what other risks they are exposed to on a daily basis, their own risk for severe disease, and their risk tolerance.

"If you have regular contact with someone who is immunocompromised or unvaccinated, then you may not want to be around more than a couple of people at a time to reduce the overall risk," says Landon.

What about seeing my unvaccinated friends indoors?

The CDC says to limit your indoor interactions with unvaccinated people to just one other household at a time. The agency says you can go mask-free as long as no one in the unvaccinated household is at high risk of severe COVID-19. So if your two unvaccinated best friends live together, then yes, you can all hang out indoors at the same time. If they're not roomies, it's best to visit them one at a time.

Your kid questions

Are indoor playdates/hangouts OK if the adults are all vaccinated but the kids aren't?

While younger children are at lower risk of severe disease if they do get infected, the risk "is not zero," says Malani. And kids can transmit to others, so you still need to be thoughtful about your social bubble.

Outdoor playdates are safer, and Pierre says it's probably fine to let the kiddos go maskless if they are outside, provided there aren't variants of concern circulating widely in your community.

If you want the kids to play indoors, make sure you have an honest conversation with the other family about their risk factors. Did they just fly back from vacation in a spot where variants of concern are circulating widely? Do their kids play on a sports team that just had a COVID-19 case? Have they had a sleepover at someone else's house?

"The point is, you have shared risk and shared responsibility in terms of playdates," Malani says.

As for how many families can join the indoor playdate? Given CDC guidelines about meeting up with unvaccinated households, Pierre suggests limiting it to one family at a time. Gandhi's interpretation is more liberal: If the kids are all low risk and the adults are all vaccinated, she would suggest no more than four households. "It's ultimately about what your risk tolerance is," Gandhi notes — though case rates in your community should help guide your decision-making.

My relatives want to hold a family reunion. Is it safe for us to gather?

Yes, but keep it small and keep most of the activities outdoors if you can. "If you have a big family reunion, there's going to be risk," says Malani. "It's probably not a great time to hang out with 100 people. "

Make sure all the vulnerable adults in the family are vaccinated and again, talk openly about the kids' risk factors. It might be a good idea to hold off on mask-less indoor playdates for a week or two before traveling to the reunion, Pierre says. For older kids, maybe they shouldn't be spending a lot of time unmasked with a bunch of friends before they meet up with grandparents, Landon adds.

What about taking a vacation with my unvaccinated kids?

If it's feasible, consider driving instead of flying, says Aronoff.

If you do fly, make sure your kids know how to wear a mask properly and keep their distance from other people. Pierre, the mother of 3-year-old twins, suggests avoiding longer flights because longer exposures pose potentially higher risks. Also, consider your sanity: It can be hard to keep young kids masked up and entertained on long-haul flights.

The biggest risk on flights is from the exhalations of nearby passengers, so seat your kids in between you and their other parent, not on an aisle, suggest Aronoff and Gandhi.

Avoid busy theme parks or crowded indoor activities at your destination. One other thing to consider: Will your kids have to quarantine once they're back home or refrain from school sports or other activities? "Make sure you understand all the implications of traveling with your unvaccinated children," Landon says.


Is it safe to fly domestically?

Yes, according to the CDC. But you still have to wear a mask, in part to keep other travelers safe, but also yourself, "because who wants a cold on vacation?" Landon notes. Also, try to keep physically distanced and avoid crowds, and monitor yourself for any symptoms a few days after you arrive. The CDC does not require vaccinated domestic travelers to quarantine after travel, unless you have symptoms.

That said, until the majority of the U.S. is vaccinated, experts say the threshold for travel should be higher than usual. Consider why you are traveling and how important it is, says Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. "Don't gather your square-dancing group and go for a field trip," he says. But if you need to get away for your mental health or you haven't seen your mother in a year, go ahead.

What about international travel?

It's far more complicated. You have to know the rules of the country you're going to. Many still require you to quarantine when you arrive and/or show a negative COVID-19 test. The other thing to remember is that you'll need a negative test to get back into the U.S.

The CDC says traveling abroad poses added risk, even for fully vaccinated travelers. For example, you could be exposed to new virus variants of concern and potentially bring them back with you. The agency's list of very high risk foreign destinations is very long.

Finally, you have to consider the health system in the country you're visiting. Is it overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases? "You may not get COVID, but if you get a heart attack or break your leg, that may not be a great place to be," says Dr. Henry Wu, an infectious disease specialist and head of the TravelWell Center at Emory University.

What's The Issue With School Start Times?

In the United States, most middle and high schools start school well before 8:30 am. While this may be the norm, it may not be what's best for the students. Take a look at a typical high school student-athletes schedule below:

  • Wake Up: 6:30 am
  • School Start Time: 7:30 am
  • Last Class Ends: 3:30 pm
  • After School Sport: 4:00pm-6:00pm
  • Arrive Home: 6:30 pm
  • After Dinner Homework:

While this may be an example of a relatively 'busy' student-athlete, it is not uncommon, and there are teens who remain even busier, believe it or not. Assuming that everything goes perfectly throughout the day and the teen does manage to fall asleep when the clock strikes 11:30 pm, that gives them a 7-hour window to sleep until 6:30 am. This is enough to get by, but perhaps not optimal, and chances are they will not always fall asleep right away, nor will they sleep perfectly through the night. Additionally, they may have an important test or series of tests coming up that require them to stay up later than normal, putting them at risk to begin accumulating sleep debt.

Everybody Except Teachers Unions Loves the CDC's Revised School Distancing Guidelines

As foreshadowed last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday morning shortened its recommended distance between K-12 students from six feet to three feet, a change that could hasten full-time schooling for millions of remote and hybrid learners.

"We don't really have the evidence that 6 feet is required in order to maintain low spread," CDC Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force leader Greta Massetti told the Associated Press.

The funny thing is, they didn't really have that evidence five weeks ago, either, yet that didn't prevent the CDC from issuing a global outlier of a school reopening guidance that, if followed to the letter, would have kept most American public schools half-open at best well into the fall.

The negative reaction to that teachers union–influenced February 12 document, not just from outspoken school-opening advocates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis but also scientists, left-leaning media outlets, and some Democratic-run polities, undermined the CDC's credibility, and led directly to several school districts delaying or even reversing plans to reopen.

The new recommendations include bringing down plastic barriers ("We don't have a lot of evidence of their effectiveness," Massetti told the A.P.), maintaining six feet of distance in middle and high schools in high-spread communities, and having everyone wear masks.

The revision brings the CDC closer in line with the epidemiological and pediatric researchers, the global public health community, and the professed opinion last July of its current director, Rochelle Walensky. But one category of "stakeholder," unsurprisingly, isn't happy: teachers unions.

"They are compromising the one enduring public health missive that we've gotten from the beginning of this pandemic in order to squeeze more kids into schools," American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten told The Washington Post this week. "I think that is problematic until we have real evidence in these harder-to-open places about what the effect is."

Weingarten, a frequent guest of the Biden White House, has, like other union leaders, sought to portray herself as a tireless advocate for reopening while practically throwing up one objection after another when full-time schooling gets near.

Look, you need to have all the mitigation strategies in place before you can actually have a conversation about distancing. Teachers still want and need 6 feet, especially becausre many districts haven't been able to meet other guidelines

&mdash Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) March 17, 2021

On one hand, you can understand why the unions are so chippy. Having isolated themselves on the science of school spread, alienated parents with reckless accusations of racism, and leveraged their significant influence on Democratic politicians to help make the United States a world leader in shuttered schools, the guilds are coming under increasing public criticism. Including from leading New York mayoral candidate, Democrat Andrew Yang, who took aim at the city's United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in a Politico interview this week: "I will confess to being a parent that has been frustrated by how slow our schools have been to open, and I do believe that the UFT has been a significant reason why our schools have been slow to open."

(Retorted UFT President Michael Mulgrew, lamely: "The UFT was the leading force in New York City public schools opening and opening safely, protecting students and staff. Mr. Yang needs to do his homework.")

On the other hand, unions just received a no-strings-attached $200 billion gift from the federal government via an American Rescue Plan that spends most of its K-12 component on hiring, even at a time when schools have been closed and students have been exiting public schools.

Mulgrew, and the New York City Department of Education, illustrate how even policies that are labeled as "reopening" end up with a school experience as anything but. My NYC kindergartener, who is podding a few feet away from me as I type, attends a school of more than 800 kids, where—per city policy arduously negotiated by Mulgrew—the whole institution, already operating at half-time capacity because of the six-foot rule, will shut down if there are two concurrent positive cases of COVID-19.

Weingarten has repeatedly touted New York City (as opposed to, say, the state of Florida, where schools have been open five days a week since September) as a national model. Today's long-overdue CDC revision will hopefully instead make Gotham a stingy outlier in an increasingly vaccinated K-12 world that's accelerating toward full reopening. As New York magazine's Jonathan Chait put it this week, "Just Reopen the Schools Now."

The Department of Education on Wednesday said that a whopping $122 billion from the recently passed American Rescue Plan will be disbursed to public schools by the end of March. An additional $10 billion is being spent by the Department of Health and Human Services on school COVID testing by early April. The unions got their massive payday. Time to go to work.

Nutritionists' Healthiest Snack Picks for Kids

It's hard to believe, but the latest research shows that a mere 12 percent of American children are meeting the recommended servings for fruit and only 8 percent of American children are meeting the recommend servings for veggies.

One smart way to get kids eating more of what they need is by focusing on snack time. According to recent data, about a quarter of kids' daily calories come from snacks, yet kids' between-meal bites rarely provide a full serving of fruit or vegetables.

Here's how top nutrition pros create kid-friendly snacks that provide at least one serving of fruit or vegetables.

Tip: Offer a wider variety of options. We often get in a rut of eating the same things like apples, bananas and grapes. There are hundreds of produce picks, so think beyond the banana.

"I often serve kiwis to my kids for snacks. Bite for bite, Kiwifruit is one of the most nutrient packed options in the produce aisle (and that's saying a lot!). Two kiwifruit have twice the vitamin C of an orange, more potassium than a banana, and as much fiber as a bowl of bran flakes -- all for just 100 calories. They're also so easy. Just cut a ripe kiwi in half and scoop it out with a spoon."
Kate Geagan, M.S., R.D.
Author, Go Green Get Lean (Rodale)

Tip: Have fun and be creative! Kids love to help "build" their own healthy snacks. Use produce with different textures, shapes and colors and let your child create healthy treats that will excite her/his imagination and appetite.

"Some of my favorite fruit and veggie snacks for kids include: rainbow fruit kebob + Greek-yogurt dip -- chop up slices of watermelon, banana, kiwi, blueberries, red grapes and make a kebob. Dip in Greek yogurt. You also can't go wrong with the old ants on a log."
Lauren Fowler, R.D.N.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
"The Running Carrot" blog

Tip: Don't be afraid to be a "sneaky" chef if your child refuses fresh produce. A delicious smoothie or baked goods (like muffins) are perfect for adding extra fruits and veggies in ways that kids will never know.

"For after school snacking, I really like making a quick smoothie or an energy-packed muffin. My favorite go-to muffin recipe is this one for pumpkin-applesauce mini muffins"
Estela Schnelle M.S., R.D., founder of the food and lifestyle blog "Weekly Bite."

Tip: Dip it! Recent research from Penn State found that a low-fat dip is one of the simplest ways to go from yuck to yum! The study found children were three times more likely to eat vegetables with a low-fat ranch or pizza-flavored dip than when they were served the same vegetables without a dip. The kids also ate up to twice as much of their veggies with a dip than alone.

"Snack time can be a great opportunity to turn kids on to veggies and fruit using dips. Try baby carrots, snow peas, celery or cherry tomatoes with salsa or low-fat ranch dip. I started my kids out with dips they have been veggie eaters ever since."
Sari Schlussel-Leeds, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.

Tip: All forms of fruit and veggies count. Fresh may be best, but not if it means your child doesn't reach his produce quota for the day. Fresh, frozen, squeezable or dried fruit will all count toward produce requirements.

"For on-the-go, you can't beat the convenience of squeezable fruit pouches. My kids love them and I recently tried a fruit and veggie pouch for myself prior to a big swim! Look for one that has at least 1.5 servings of fruit or fruit plus veggies per pouch, like Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers."
Dr. Felicia D. Stoler, D.C.N., M.S., R.D., F.A.C.S.M.
Nutritionist and exercise physiologist
Author, Living Skinny in Fat Genes: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great

Tip: Make produce readily available and easy to eat. Research shows that having a fruit bowl in a prominent location can boost consumption as well as having veggies cut and ready to eat in the fridge.

C.D.C. Draws Up a Blueprint for Reopening Schools

Amid an acrid national controversy, the agency proposed detailed criteria for returning students to classrooms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged that K-12 schools be reopened as soon as possible, and it offered a step-by-step plan to get students back in classrooms and to resolve a debate dividing communities across the nation.

The guidelines highlight growing evidence that schools can open safely if they use measures designed to slow the coronavirus’s spread. The agency said that even in communities with high transmission rates, elementary-school students may receive at least some in-person instruction safely.

Middle and high school students, the agency said, may attend in-person classes safely when the virus is less prevalent, but may need to switch to hybrid or remote learning in communities experiencing intense outbreaks.

“C.D.C.’s operational strategy is grounded in science and the best available evidence,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the C.D.C., said on Friday in a call with reporters.

The guidelines arrive amid an intensifying debate. Even as parents in some districts grow frustrated with shuttered schools, some teachers and their unions refuse to return to classrooms they regard as unsafe.

Public school enrollment has declined in many districts. Education and civil rights leaders are worried about the harm to children who have not been in classrooms for nearly a year.

The recommendations tread a middle ground between those eager to see a resumption of in-person learning and those fearful that schools reopenings will spread the virus.

In advice that may disappoint some teachers, the document states that vaccinating educators should be priority, but not a prerequisite for reopening schools.

Still, both national unions thanked the C.D.C. for the clearer guidance.

“For the first time since the start of this pandemic, we have a rigorous road map, based on science, that our members can use to fight for a safe reopening,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and an ally of President Biden.

But Ms. Weingarten and Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, argued that schools might find the C.D.C.’s mitigation strategies difficult to enact without additional federal funding.

The agency’s guidance repeats the idea that schools should be the last to close and the first to reopen in any community. But the C.D.C. has no power to force communities to take steps to decrease high transmission rates — such as closing nonessential businesses — in order to reopen schools.

By the agency’s new criteria, schools in more than 90 percent of U.S. counties could not return to in-person classrooms full-time, Dr. Walensky noted. Nonetheless, the majority of districts are offering at least some in-person learning, and about half of the nation’s students are learning in classrooms.

But there are stark disparities in who has access to in-person instruction, with urban districts serving mostly poor, nonwhite children more likely to have closed schools than suburban and rural ones.

Researchers are concerned not just about the academic consequences of being out of school for such a prolonged period. While data are still very limited, many doctors and mental health experts report seeing unusually high numbers of children and adolescents who are depressed, anxious or experiencing other mental health issues.

The agency’s approach struck the right balance between the risks and the benefits of in-person instruction, said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“We have accumulated a tremendous amount of harms from not having schools open,” Dr. Nuzzo said. “This document is important in trying to couch the risks in relation to those harms, and try to paint a path forward.”

The C.D.C. offered advice to school administrators tailored to four levels of viral transmission in the surrounding communities.

The agency said that elementary schools could remain open regardless of virus levels in the surrounding community, pointing to evidence that young students are least likely to be infected or to spread the pathogen.

Only in communities with the highest transmission levels should elementary schools switch to a hybrid model, with some remote instruction and some in-person instruction, the agency said. In any scenario, elementary schools should remain at least partly open. Middle schools and high schools should close completely and switch to virtual learning when transmission levels are highest, the agency said.

The guidelines also prioritized in-person instruction over extracurricular activities like sports and school events. In an outbreak, these activities should be curtailed before classrooms are closed, officials said.

Some experts raised concerns about the strategy. Many schools in communities where viral transmission is high have been open for fully in-person instruction, without experiencing outbreaks of the virus.


Use healthy oils (like olive and canola oil) for cooking, on salad, and at the table. Limit butter. Avoid trans fat.

Drink water, tea, or coffee (with little or no sugar). Limit milk/dairy (1-2 servings/day) and juice (1 small glass/day). Avoid sugary drinks.

The more veggies &mdash and the greater the variety &mdash the better. Potatoes and French fries don’t count.

Eat plenty of fruits of all colors

Choose fish, poultry, beans, and nuts limit red meat and cheese avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.

Eat a variety of whole grains (like whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice). Limit refined grains (like white rice and white bread).

Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

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Explore the downloadable guide with tips and strategies for healthy eating and healthy living.

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