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National Leaders Join to Advocate for Improved School Nutrition at Washington Conference

Aug 11, 2014

Mission Readiness, American Heart Association and National PTA to Keynote Luncheon Session

WASHINGTON, DC – Three of the nation’s leading school nutrition advocates will keynote the September 9 luncheon at the United Fresh Washington Conference. The authorities from Mission: Readiness, a national security organization of more than 450 retired admirals and generals calling for smart investments in America’s children; the American Heart Association, an outspoken public health ally in advocating healthful school meals; and the National PTA, an ardent supporter of the new school meal standards, will underscore the urgent need to provide nutritious school meals – including fresh fruits and vegetables – to America’s kids.

“Mission: Readiness, the American Heart Association and the National PTA are among the most respected organizations fighting for improved nutrition in our nation’s schools,” said Tom Stenzel, president & CEO. “From their own unique perspectives focused respectively on national security, fighting obesity and chronic disease, and students overall well-being, each of these organizations is profoundly committed to increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthful foods for America’s schoolchildren. We look forward to hearing their compelling presentations and sharing their messages with policymakers in Washington, DC.”

Speaking at the September 9 General Session Luncheon — Why Fighting for Healthier School Meals Is So Important:

James A. “Jamie” Barnett, Jr., Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired), Mission: Readiness
Admiral Barnett is a member of Mission: Readiness, the nonpartisan, nonprofit national security organization led by hundreds of retired generals and admirals calling for smart investments in America’s children .The organization has been outspoken about the nation’s childhood obesity crisis and its impact on national security. Admiral Barnett is a partner in the law firm of Venable LLP, where he co-chairs its Telecommunications Group and specializes in cybersecurity practice. Prior to that, he was the Senior Vice President of National Security Policy for the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, a science and technology policy think tank in the Washington, D.C. area.

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Heart Association
Dr. Sanchez currently serves as Chair of the Partnership for Prevention Board of Directors and Chair of the National Commission on Prevention Priorities. He also chairs the Texas Public Health Coalition. From 2008 to 2012, he served as chair of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .He serves on the newly formed Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Obesity Solutions.

Otha Thornton, President, National PTA
Otha Thornton is a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and his last two assignments were with the White House Communications Agency and United States Forces-Iraq in Baghdad. Thornton earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2009-2010. Previously, Thornton served on National PTA’s Board of Directors, Legislative Committee, Membership Committee, and Executive Search Committee. During his time with Georgia PTA, Otha served on the Board of Directors as legislative chair and as an Advisory Group member for Georgia’s Partnership for Excellence in Education.

“We are thrilled to have these all-star advocates of nutrition policy joining us for The Washington Conference. Their insights and passion for advancing child nutrition will be an important part of the message we take to Capitol Hill,” said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president, nutrition & health.

The Washington Conference is the only annual event where the produce industry’s most prominent and influential executives gather for strategic, face-to-face dialogue with key members of Congress and regulatory officials on industry priorities.



Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association brings together companies across every segment of the fresh produce supply chain, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. We empower industry leaders to shape sound government policy. We deliver the resources and expertise companies need to succeed in managing complex business and technical issues. We provide the training and development individuals need to advance their careers in produce. And, through these endeavors, we unite our industry with a common purpose – to build long-term value for our members and grow produce consumption. For more information, or call 202-303-3400. 

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