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The Issue

The Center for Black Health & Equity supports all communities to have access to fast food restaurant menu disclosure warning labels on single-item foods or combination meals that are in excess of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). This ingredient has a direct impact on blood pressure and heart disease, and reducing our sodium levels will reduce our risk of developing these health problems.


While the FDA has provided guidance for an overall sodium reduction in prepared and processed foods, The Center believes the suggested number is not low enough for African Americans. African Americans are already at risk due to other factors such as stress and systemic racism, so excess sodium will only increase the risk of heart disease.


  • The current DGA for sodium is 2,300 mg per day; this equals about a teaspoon of table salt.  An ideal limit is no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially individuals with high blood pressure. Reading nutrition labels and having access to warning labels helps consumers to make healthier food choices.

Cleveland’s “Cut the Salt, Keep the Flavor” Campaign

  • The prevalence of high blood pressure in Ohio is 34.5%. Cuyahoga County is ranked among the least healthy counties in Ohio (Lowest 0%-25%). 

  • Nearly two-fifths (38%) of Cuyahoga County adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and 38% have high blood cholesterol.

  • Restaurant and processed food contribute more than two-thirds of the daily dietary sodium intake.

  • While consumers can control how much salt they use at the table, pre-added salt cannot be taken out. Consumers deserve more control over their health and more information when they order a meal instead of the food service establishment deciding for them.

  • In 2020, Cleveland became one of the first cities to prioritize consumer choice by passing a policy making low-fat milk, water, and 100% fruit juice the default beverage in restaurant kid's meals.

  • Salt warnings on food service establishment menus can only further the public's journey toward improving its overall health.

North Carolina’s “School Meals for All NC” Campaign


  • Children are going hungry in North Carolina

    • Providing school meals to all public school students in North Carolina at no cost to their families is a clear way to reduce child hunger in our state. School meals are proven to be an effective way to relieve child hunger. Based on 2019 data, 121,646 children who are food insecure in North Carolina right now would no longer go hungry if they had access to school meals at no cost to their families.


  • Many kids don’t eat school meals due to shame or stigma.

    • Lunch shame and stigma are real. Research shows that most school districts in North Carolina do not prohibit lunch shaming practices like throwing away the food of the student without money or barring participation in critical moments like graduation. Schools are even allowed to call child protective services and debt collectors for school meal accounts that are in the red. Children, who want to avoid this treatment, will choose not to eat meals at all rather than risk poor treatment. We can end this problem once and for all with no-cost school meals for all.


  • School nutrition programs are struggling with meal debt.

    • It’s true. By November 2022, schools in North Carolina had accrued more than $1.3 million in unpaid meal charges. It’s clear that families are still struggling to pay for school meals, and this has only increased since the start of COVID-19. 

    • The simplest solution that eliminates the possibility of school meal debt in our state is to make school meals available to all students in public schools at no cost to their families. No child or family should be burdened with school meal debt, and school meals for all at no cost to families would eliminate that burden.


  • Students could be doing better in school.

    • Hungry kids can’t learn. But there is a solution: school meals for all. Study after study shows that no-cost school meals improve academic outcomes for students and schools. For example, a study here in North Carolina found that there were significant improvements in 5th-grade science and middle school reading test scores for schools offering meals to all students at no cost to their families through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

    • According to a 2021 report, North Carolina schools participating in CEP are more likely to have met growth targets and to have a higher performance grade compared to schools with similar income levels that don’t participate. Those schools also have higher academic performance on average compared to schools with similar income levels that don’t participate.


Upcoming SMFA NC Town Halls

At these SMFA NC town halls, you will be reminded of your power to make a difference and offer solutions that bring School Meals for All NC to life. We hope our town hall encourages you to continue this discussion at home, in church, in social gatherings, and throughout the community. Join us in our quest to end the immense food insecurity in rural and urban North Carolina.

September 23:


October 13:

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