Ray of Hope

Rachael Ray has no children, but she seems to care about them more than some who do.

Ray, the sometimes ubiquitous TV host/TV cook/author/Dunkin' Donuts pitch girl, is putting some heat in other people's kitchens---specifically those in our schools.

Ray is joining a bi-partisan legislative effort in Washington to help move along the "Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act of 2010."

Among other things, the proposed $8 billion bill would improve access and funding to school meal programs, improve access to out-of-school meal programs, help schools and child care improve the quality of meals and encourage public and private partnerships to improve child nutrition and wellness.

Ray spoke at a press conference in Washington Thursday.

"A healthy relationship with food has changed the quality of my life in every way imaginable," Ray said.

She then drew a parallel between eating healthy and a child's future.

"I really think that teaching a child good nutrition and the basics of cooking gives them the skills they need for self-esteem and security for the rest of their lives," she said.

The legislation is in response to the challenge that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama laid out in their "Let's Move" initiative to support efforts to improve school wellness and support public and private partnerships to improve child nutrition.

Ray is child-less, but that was a personal choice based on her belief that, frankly, her schedule and lifestyle wouldn't be conducive to good parenting.

Pity more so-called "parents" didn't take that tack before bringing little people into the world.

Rachael Ray

Ray says that at a time when there seems to be so much bad and sad news all the time, it's heartening to see a bi-partisan effort to ensure that not only do kids eat healthy, but that they eat, period.

"Close your eyes and imagine being a child and literally going hungry," she said as she stressed that eating healthy can be inexpensive as well.

Her voice echoed that of legislators.

Rep. George Miller (D-California) said at a media briefing Thursday that in 2008 more than 16 million children lived in homes without access to enough nutritious foods.

"America's children should not have to go hungry and they should have access to healthy foods year round, even when school children are on summer break," said Miller.

Ray added, "Just being able to eat a good, nutritious meal really improves the quality of your life, as well as the longevity of it."

Ray can be a polarizing entity because of her sometimes over-exposure on television and elsewhere. Other TV cooks/chefs like world traveler Anthony Bourdain have been less-than-enthralled with Ray and her cuisine.

But I've never heard Bourdain impart this message.

"Every child in this country is born with a light shining inside them," Ray said, "and it's our duty to keep that light shining bright."


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