The San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council showcased the role mushrooms play in healthful eating and in fighting obesity when the organization signed on as a key sponsor at Partnership for a Healthier America’s inaugural Building a Healthier Future Summit on Nov. 29-30 in Washington, D.C.

Partnership for a Healthier America works with the private sector to help solve the childhood obesity crisis.

The summit brought together philanthropic, government and private sector leaders who sought ways to work together to develop a national agenda to end childhood obesity, said Fred Recchiuti, general manager at Basciani Foods Inc., Avondale, Pa.

The Mushroom Council was the sole sponsor of the summit’s only reception, said Bart Minor, president.

A highlight of the reception was the mushroom/meat blend meatballs, he said.

Since mushrooms are compatible with meat in texture and flavor, they can help keep the calorie counts down when they’re substituted for meat in dishes that appeal to kids, like spaghetti and sloppy joes, Recchiuti said.

“A simple swap can add vegetable servings to kids’ school lunches without them even knowing it,” he said.

Recchiuti also has been active on the United Fresh Produce Association’s Government Relations Council and its A Salad Bar in Every School program.

“Hopefully, we can get a salad bar in every school and get mushrooms in kids’ diets to reduce the fat that they’re eating in meat and increase their vegetable intake,” he said.

The Partnership for a Healthier America program isn’t all the Mushroom Council is involved with to promote good health. The council is a National Strategic Partner in the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Nutrition Communicators Network to promote the 2010 dietary guidelines.

In late September, Mushroom Council representatives also attended the 2011 American Dietetic Association’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in San Diego.

The expo offers an opportunity for the council to interact with top-tier nutrition influencers who regularly share their insights with consumers, Minor said.