On Thursday, my supervisor was travelling on business and I got to go to an event called the Children’s Budget Summit, where all of the foremost child advocacy organizations meet to discuss how federal funds are (or are not) being spent on children.
Among the speakers at the event were three senators and Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Ms. Higginbottom spoke about the Administration’s various children’s initiatives and spent a great deal of time talking about childhood obesity programs. She spoke about the Task Force on Childhood Obesity established by President Obama “to develop and implement an interagency plan that details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan to end the problem of childhood obesity within a generation”. In May, the Task Force released a report detailing 70 policy recommendations, one of which is very relevant to our program:
“Providing healthy food in schools, through improvements in federally-supported school lunches and breakfasts; upgrading the nutritional quality of other foods sold in schools; and improving nutrition education and the overall health of the school environment.”
Among the other speakers were Dr. Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain, and Kristen Grimm, founder/president of Spitfire Strategies. Both speakers delivered thought-provoking presentations detailing communications strategies for advocacy organizations. I had expected the conference to be very policy- and budget-focused, so I found it very telling that nearly half of the day’s events were related to communications, which I’m learning is a big part of the work that goes on here in DC.
These past few weeks I’ve learned a lot on the policy side of things. I’ve learned about the recent freeze on federal discretionary spending. Since much of the spending related to children is traditionally discretionary spending, this freeze could become very troubling for youth. I also did quite a bit of research into a House amendment to an appropriations bill that proposes to offset increased funding for teachers by cutting from the Administration’s key education reform initiatives. My research helped inform APA’s statement on the issue released last week. In the coming months, I’ll be closely following the reauthorization/retooling of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
I’ve really enjoyed spending time with the other interns in the office (check out the photo from a Washington Nationals game below). Other happenings this week included a Sanford School event on the Hill, touring the monuments at night (best time to see them), and having my mind blown by the new DiCaprio movie – Inception.
I am so proud of Food for Thought for scoring a $1,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield! John and Tim have put our team in a great position for the fall – I’m so pumped for our program. Also, Tim’s documentary was incredible! As everything winds down in Durham, I hope you all travel safe and have a great time over the next few weeks. Can’t wait to see everyone soon.