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Out-of-School Programs to Promote Healthy Lifestyles

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the YMCA recently announced it will be ramping up efforts to promote healthy eating and exercise in its programs, according to a New York Times article out this week.

The YMCA, which serves more than 700,000 children in early-childhood, after-school, and summer programs at 10,000 chapters nationwide, is working with first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to reduce childhood obesity in conjunction with the Partnership for a Healthier America.

According to the article, the YMCA will be adopting voluntary standards that encourage exercise and healthy snacks, while reducing video game and television time. If implemented, it's estimated it would cost a local YMCA chapter an extra 50 cents per child, per day; 85 percent of YMCA chapters are expected to implement the standards, following suit with a number of OST providers that are using the out-of-school hours to promote healthy lifestyles for participants.

Out-of-school-time programs like the YMCA's are able to get federal funding to provide snacks for needy kids after school and during the summer, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program, which I blogged about a few months ago. President Obama recently signed the agriculture appropriations 2012 spending bill into law, which budgets more funding in the next fiscal year for both the school and summer meals programs.

Of note this week, my colleague Nirvi Shah wrote about the latest news on the continuing debate on the guidelines for the food served through the school lunch program that have stemmed from last year's Healthy, Hungry Free Kids Act.

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