As Mayor, I recognize the importance of healthy eating to student success and quality of life and we want to provide better food and raise the bar on nutritional content. As the school food contract is about to expire, we want to explore healthy options to help our children build healthy habits for life. Aramark and every other food vendor is welcome to bid on the new contract. That means vendors will need to be able to meet those requirements to succeed in winning the contract. I want to stress that our cafeteria workers are central to our schools and go above and beyond for our students, offering a warm consistent presence across all grade levels and schools in addition to doing their jobs. No one is looking to displace them, and no one will lose their jobs.
We join school districts across the country and as close by as Boston, which have increased nutritional standards for school food in recent years. Diet-related illnesses are at an all-time high in our country, and we in Everett face one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the state. This is a crisis, and we as adults in this community have a responsibility to take action. I am proud of the work we are doing to promote community health and wellness. This is not the first time we have worked to improve nutrition in food programming. Our senior meals used to be contracted out to an external provider, but now they are prepared fresh in-house and are far healthier and more greatly enjoyed by many, which is what we envision in all our schools.
My vision for Everett is to make us the healthiest city in America and we are on our way. My administration has provided healthy eating options, through community gardens and the Healthy Meals program. In 2016, we established the first municipal Health and Wellness Center in the country at the old Everett High School, which features exercises programs, weight lose challenges, equipment and also includes healthy kids cooking classes, kids fit camps, and specialized kids fit equipment.
My administration has remained committed when it comes to providing the best and innovative ways in keeping the residents of Everett active and healthy. However, we want to make sure our children receive the same opportunities. Incorporating healthy eating into their daily school routine will empower them to have more energy, focus, and develop healthy habits during early childhood that will continue into adulthood.