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US Senator Gillibrand visits Binghamton to announce summer food program

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"You are what you eat." The problem, says US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, is that what kids are eating is hurting their health and holding back their potential.

"The truth of the matter is too many kids are starting Kindergarten who are obese. Too many kids at younger ages are getting heart disease and diabetes," said Senator Gillibrand.

With the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 set to expire, Gillibrand is calling for legislation that would continue it's efforts. It funds efforts like the national school lunch and summer food service programs. The food bank of the southern tier helps with these programs.

"Only 24,000 children received meals last year. That's about 22 percent of the kids who are eligible and I would say out of all the six counties that the food bank serves in the Southern Tier, Broome County has one of the highest participation rates," said Southern Tier Food Bank President and CEO, Natasha Thompson.

"The more we can invest in our school programs, kids will be used to healthy foods and they will ask for it when they get home," said Gillibrand.

If you eat your fruits and vegetables every single day, it will save 17 billion dollars in health care costs each year.

"I guarantee you it's not too hard. Some will say, 'well kids prefer pizza over fruits and vegetables.' Well of course they do. Why would you let a five or six year old determine nutrition standards for our country? Common Sense is needed here so I hope we can win this debate in Washington," said Gillibrand.

The senator also wants to expand the farm to school program. Reisingers apple country in Watkins Glenn is growing 5,000 more trees to help put fresh fruit in Binghamton City schools.

"It's worth it to give them fruits and vegetables. It determines their future and it determines whether they are healthy, it determines whether they can concentrate in school and reach their full learning potential," said Gillibrand.

It plans to be introduced this month and the children's nutrition bill debated in the next few months.