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Zelensky Joins G7 Summit to Ask QUAD Countries for Military Support; USDA Proposing A Ban On Flavored Milk In Schools; Parkland Mom Bringing New School Shooting Book To Lawmakers; Smoke From Canadian Wildfire Impacting Air Quality. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 20, 2023 - 08:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to CNN this morning. It is 8 o'clock on the eastern coast. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for being with us. So if our theme this morning is learning about one another, what's the thing that we need to know about you that we don't know?

WALKER: I can't stand milk, like dairy milk or cow milk.


WALKER: We were just having this conversation, right?


WALKER: I mean, I didn't know that many adults who hate milk as much as I do.


WALKER: I won't -- I won't even -- I won't put it in my coffee. If someone puts cow milk in my coffee, I will taste it, I will smell it, and I'll spit it out.

BLACKWELL: Do not bring Amara milk.

WALKER: It tastes like animal byproduct.


WALKER: Do you like milk?

BLACKWELL: I mean, I like yogurt and I like, you know, ice cream.

WALKER: Right. But I'm saying milk --

BLACKWELL: Drinking it. No. I don't need it.

WALKER: -- in it's regular form.

BLACKWELL: I don't need it. I can pass.

WALKER: There you go.

BLACKWELL: Here's what we're watching for you today. High-stakes summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives at the G7 Summit to boost support as Russia escalates the war. He's expected to meet with President Biden who faces challenges of his own deadlock on a debt limit deal. Can an agreement be made before time and the money run out?

WALKER: Plus signs of possible survival Colombian officials race to find four children they say may have survived a plane crash in the Amazon. But could they still be alive?

BLACKWELL: And speaking of milk, is chocolate milk on the chopping block? Why the USDA is looking at whether to keep chocolate milk and other sweetened milk on the menu for elementary and middle school students.

This morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in Hiroshima Japan meeting with world leaders assembled for the G7 Summit. And he's met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the prime minister of Italy and U.K. so far. And he said to have a one-on-one with President Biden. The Ukrainian leader is expected to address the entire group tomorrow.

Now Zelensky is making an appeal for support in efforts to beat back attacks from Russia ahead of an expected spring counter-offensive.

WALKER: Providing military and economic aid to Ukraine is just one item on the agenda for the G7 members. Leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States are also coordinating a response to an increasingly assertive military and economic action from China. Ongoing negotiations though over the debt ceiling have also been a subject of interest at the gathering. During a meeting with Australia's Prime Minister, President Biden was asked about the talks and he said the negotiations are progressing as he expects.


PRESIDENT BIDEN: It goes in stages. And what happens is the first meetings weren't all that progressive, the second ones were, and the third one was. And then what happens is the -- the carriers go back to the principals and say this is what we're thinking about. And then people put down new claims. I still believe we'll be able to avoid a default and we'll get something decent done.


WALKER: We began with CNN International Correspondent Mark Stewart, who's in Hiroshima. Mark, tell us more about what's on the agenda. And of course, we know that the two main issues that are being discussed heavily are Russia and China.

MARK STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, let's first talk about President Zelensky's visit and how that all weaves together. President Zelensky again arrived late this afternoon in Japan. As you mentioned, he has been meeting with many heads of state, the next meeting to really expect will be with President Biden.

Sometime in the next few hours is what we believe. It is that meeting that will perhaps trigger an announcement by the U.S. Government of additional aid to Ukraine, about $375 million, and very much focused on military funding. There's been a lot of discussion about just how much support the United States would give specifically toward airpower.

At times, we have heard President Biden be a bit lukewarm about providing F16 fighter jets. This latest military package, I'm told, is very focused on ammunition, on -- on different interception systems, not so much aircraft. But it does seem that the Whitehouse is OK with that to be a move eventually.

Another big discussion point though, in addition to Ukraine will be China. It's not necessarily getting the headlines just yet. But as we just saw on CNN for several minutes, we carried portions of a meeting between Japan, India, and Australia as well as the United States. And those four countries formed alliances known as the QUAD. And right now, it is very relevant because as we have been reporting for months upon months, China's presence in the Pacific region is causing a lot of world leaders to raise their eyebrows it's making them a bit squeamish.


Obviously, the situation between China and Taiwan, that relationship is creating some tension, and also with North Korea. Here in Japan, military officials are very concerned about military -- about missile testing from North Korea that happens over Japanese waters. So expect to see some further discussion on that. And then -- and then when it does come to China, it is a bit of a tricky relationship for these nations because they do have strong economic ties. So the point is to have some common -- some common statement but without offending China as a whole.

Again, we'll be waiting for that meeting with President Zelensky and President Biden. As soon as we know more, we'll certainly pass that along to you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much Mark Stewart for his stay there in Hiroshima. Let's go now to Nic Robertson in Ukraine.

President Zelensky has attendance there at the G7 Summit, significant moment for his country after we watched his tour of Europe not too long ago. He's now in Japan.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN International Correspondent: Yes. And his meet again with the Italian Prime Minister and the British Prime Minister. And that tour in Europe was to those G7 European members. It was Italy, it was France, it was Germany, it was the U.K. And so U.K. has -- that really seems to have been the heavy lifter on getting the F16, the fighter jets, the training for Ukrainian pilots and possibly procurement and provision of these important fighter planes for Ukraine, an important ally and getting that moving. And, you know, President Zelensky, when meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today was thanking him for his help in that process.

Obviously, when they're all sitting in the room with the G7, Zelensky, when he speaks the G7 collectively will want those other voices of the European leaders to follow them behind him and give him support if President Biden is still feeling a little cautious about how much engagement and how quickly the United States engagement should be with the F16 fighter aircraft. Although the United States is not going to stand in the way of other allies providing those aircraft. But I think also an important meeting for Zelensky today was a meeting with Narendra Modi, the -- the Indian Prime Minister, a huge country, very important, influential on the world stage, important with other partners around the world. And Narendra Modi, of course, still buying Russian oil. That money in Zelensky:s ailes -- eyes is what goes to fund Russia's war in Ukraine.

So the conversation there, we don't have all the details of it. But undoubtedly Zelensky will be trying to put forward his views about that. And what we've heard from Narendra Modi on it and saying, look, he realizes and believes that this -- this war in Ukraine is bigger than just Ukraine. It affects the whole world. This is something he says that goes beyond politics and the economy.

It's a humanitarian issue. And he pledged to Zelensky, to do everything he can to help find a solution. I think Zelensky will want to say, OK, let's see how you achieve that. From his perspective, of course, cutting off additional funds getting to Russia payments for oil. That would be a big step. No indication that Modi is anywhere close to doing that, however.

WALKER: All right. Nic Robertson, I appreciate your analysis as always. Thank you. Let's talk more about this as CNN military analyst and former commanding general of the U.S. Army, Europe, and Seventh army, Retired General Mark Hertling -- Hertling.

General, sorry, I haven't seen you in a while. So I stumbled on your name for a bit. It's really good to see you as always.

You know, there's so much symbolic significance, obviously, in the fact that this G7 meeting and of course, Zelensky showing up in Hiroshima, which was the site of the world's first nuclear attack. But there's also a practical impact, right? When you have a president during and while there is a war in his country traveling as far as to Japan to meet one on one with -- with these G7 leaders, leaders of the most powerful democracies in the world.

MARK HERTLING, RETIRED GENERAL, UNITED STATES ARMY: Yeah, well, we got to say to Zelensky, in their fatigable, Amara. Not only is he going to Japan, but before he went there, he was all through Europe and into the Middle East and he was in the Gulf as well. He's traveled about 10,000 miles in the last couple of days. But it's critically important to have a leader be face-to-face.

It's hard to say no when someone is looking right at you across the table. So I think that's what he's doing. And this President Zelensky has been masterful in how he has conducted diplomatic relationships for the last 16 months at least.

WALKER: Yeah. And -- and when it comes to Ukraine, I mean, you talk about how, you know, impactful it is when you're face to face with a leader. It seems yesterday's red line is tomorrow's green light as we've seen, right? Because he's pushed for high Mars and battle tanks. And at one point, they were all off limits, and now they're either you know, in the country or, you know, on the way to Ukraine. We also heard that President Biden would support Democratic allies, you know, he would approve them to export U.S. made F -- F16 jets to Ukraine.


This is something that President Biden have been pushing back against for some time, at least with the U.S. supplying these F16 fighter jets. But hey, these are U.S. made. And they're going to come through with their country. But the U.S. still has to approve it. How big of a game changer is this for the war in Ukraine?

HERTLING: Well, it's a big deal for a very specific reason, Amara. And it means future commitments. We're not going to see any of these aircraft during the upcoming offensive. It's going to still take months to have them delivered. And to have training, not just on the pilots. You just don't put a pilot in the seat and let it fly. But all the support infrastructure.

I push back a little bit in terms of what you said in terms of today's no is tomorrow's. Yes, I think it -- the Biden Administration and NATO as a large group have been masterful in getting the right things at the right time. So this comment on F16s that will come months away is really talking about further commitment to Ukraine. And I think that bothers Russia quite a bit, that the Western Allies are staying alongside President Zelenskyy and his country.

It's the right thing to do. But when you talk about cost of these military equipments, whether it be tanks or high Mars, or jets, which costs billions of dollars in this package, you're talking about politicians that also have to persuade their Congresses and their parliaments to allow these kinds of things to be delivered. These are just not items that are sitting on a shelf somewhere that you give away for free. These are things that have been purchased by the various Defense Departments of countries and they have to understand that it's taking away from their capability to give to Ukraine.

So it's -- it's a very difficult decision-making process. And I know everybody wants to give Ukraine everything they have right now. But it's a whole lot tougher than doing just that.

WALKER: All right, quick question to you on China before we go, because as you know, this QUAD meeting, you know, that this four- country coalition with Japan, Australia, India, and U.S., that meeting for next week had to be cancelled. So there -- this is going on right now, as we speak, on the sidelines of the G7. Obviously, the backdrop is, you know, a growingly, aggressive China, especially with Taiwan and the South China Sea. The fact that it had to be canceled because of domestic political issues. Is this a win for China?

HERTLING: No, I wouldn't say it was a win for China. But I would say it puts the President in a very uncomfortable position because you had to tell the other G7 leaders he couldn't be there and the other Asian leaders that he couldn't be there. But the key is and I'm sure they've huddled. They've got a common understanding of what they need to do with China in terms of negotiations. And -- and interestingly enough, I think there's a common bond with the -- with the United States as part of this group standing up to China, as China has expanded from regional hegemonic to a much greater world leader.

And -- and I think there's a lot of Asian nations that are very concerned about this and they need the support. But it is truthfully, Amara, the -- I'd be remiss if I didn't say that. It's embarrassing for the President to have to go back to deal with this craziness in Washington DC on the default. But that's a priority right now and he knows he has to do that.

WALKER: Yeah, because that could have global -- a catastrophic global economic consequences. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, great to see you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The debt ceiling now and those negotiations, the talks between the Whitehouse and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's office have appeared to stall.

WALKER: Let's go now to CNN Whitehouse Reporter Jasmine Wright in Washington. So Jasmine, talks, ended Friday, no clear indication when they will meet again in person where do things stand?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITEHOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Amara. Well, this morning, we're hearing kind of conflicting messaging coming out of the Whitehouse. On one hand, we heard from President Biden a few hours ago who projected optimism about the state of negotiations. We heard in a clip just a few minutes ago, at the top of the show, he basically said he was not at all concerned about the state of negotiations. Obviously, on Friday, we saw that major back and forth where negotiations hit a snag at the Capitol. Negotiators left the room saying that progress wasn't being made. Eventually, they came back into the room where they had a candid conversation according to sources in the room. But they left with -- and you're right. No indication that a deal was being made or when they could meet back up.

Still in Japan this morning, President Biden really described it as kind of the natural ebb and flow of how these major negotiations will go. But on the other hand, we heard overnight from Communications Director Ben Lebeau of the Whitehouse who really slammed Republicans about the same negotiations. He said and I'm to read this to you, Republicans are taking the economy hostage and pushing us to the brink of default, which could cost millions of jobs and tip the country into recession after two years of steady job and wage growth. There remains the path forward to arrive at a reasonable bipartisan agreement if Republicans can come to the table to negotiate in good faith. [08:15:09]

So that comment there kind of showing the deep frustration that there is among people in the Whitehouse about Republicans. And also Republicans have deep frustration about the Whitehouse. And I'm feeling like they won't move off those spending cops that have always been present. But, of course, still, there is a long way to go when it comes to making a deal. But we know that X date is June 1st when the country could possibly default on the debt for the first time in the nation bringing about as the White House has said repeatedly economic consequences. And of course, this is something that has shadowed the President Trump, so we're expecting to hear more from him as the days go on trying to really get some type of deal between both parties.

WALKER: All right, Jasmine Wright. Thanks for watching this for us. Appreciate it.

Well, the Colombian military is scrambling to find four children they say may have survived after a plane crash in the Amazon jungle nearly three weeks ago.

BLACKWELL: Authorities say the missing children's father has been helping in the search and search teams have found footprints they believe belong to the children in a remote part of the jungle. Stefano Pozzebon joins us now live from Bogota.

Stefano, have they found anything additional that would suggest that they are on the right track, that they're going in the right direction, that these children are still alive somewhere? How's the search going?

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the search is continuing, Victor. And we heard from the Colombian military that the search is going on around the clock. It's -- it's an -- it's a 24-hour effort in trying to locate these children in an area that is -- they released a statement yesterday saying that the area they are looking at is as big as the island of Manhattan, for example. So you can imagine how hard it is to track down four young little children, the youngest of them is only 11 months old. He's a baby in an area of dense rainforests that -- that is as big and as large as the island of Manhattan.

With that said, the one positive news maybe is that the Colombian military I said that they found the recent footsteps -- footprints sorry in the mud of the jungle and they believe that they are from the oldest of the children, the Lesly Mucutuy who is only four -- 13-years old. And the stepfather of Lesly and the father of the two youngest children is joining the Colombian military in the search and rescue operation. The military released the photo yesterday. I think we have it on the screen now of Mr. Mucutuy in -- with him next to a soldier heading into the jungle and trying to assist in this search and rescue operations.

One of the techniques for example that the Colombian military is using to try and make contact with the children is to blast off from helicopters an audio message recorded by the grandmother of the children in their own native language to try and calm them down and make contact with them, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota for us. Thank you so much.

WALKER: I just got to hope and pray that -- I mean, it's -- it's against all odds, these children, perhaps hopefully could have survived.

All right, still to come growing concerns amid the migrant surge in New York City. The city says it is currently has about 35,000 migrants and its care and is expecting busloads more to arrive.

BLACKWELL: Plus Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is set to officially enter the race for the Republican nomination for President. He has plenty of time, but can he close the distance that we're seeing in the polls with former President Trump?

Also air quality and hazy skies are issues in Canada and the northern U.S. Several large fires are burning across Alberta and British Columbia. We'll explain the threat next.



BLACKWELL: More than a dozen counties in New York had issued states of emergency in response to New York City Mayor Eric Adams plan to relocate asylum seekers out of the city. The City says it currently has about 35,000 migrants in its care.

WALKER: But neighboring counties say they do not have enough food and resources for their own residents. According to the emergency orders, officials have forbid hotel owners from accepting migrants. CNN's Polo Sandoval has more on how New York is dealing.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Amara, good morning to you. And we'll be getting another very busy weekend for New York City officials as they deal with the increasing number of asylum seekers who continue to arrive in New York City to seek refuge. This despite what I witnessed just last week on the southern border, which is a decrease in the number of migrant apprehensions though that has really done nothing to help the situation here in New York City. The average number of daily asylum seekers arriving here, about 600 According to the Adams administration. And that is a sharp increase from the roughly 200 to 300 that we were seeing just a couple of weeks back.

In fact on Monday, about one city official saying that they received over 900. So it certainly gives you a sense of that urgency as authorities here on the ground tried to find more room for these asylum seekers. And it's one of the reasons why on Friday, they opened up the Asylum Seeker Arrival Center here in Midtown's Roosevelt Hotel. This is a facility that will serve at least or at least be used in two separate ways.

One, sort of a central location where many of these migrants will be processed, will be offered some of those resources by some of those nonprofits. And then those families traveling -- traveling with children and many of them with an opportunity to actually shelter long term at this facility. Meanwhile, authorities here in New York City continue to plead with other elected officials to try to find other similar spaces as at this point, it doesn't seem that the -- that the needs for these asylum seekers will subside anytime soon. Back to you guys.

WALKER: Polo Sandoval, thank you. Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis traveled to New Hampshire to make his pitch to voters in the Granite State as he gets ready to launch his 2024 White House run.


BLACKWELL: And while they're DeSantis met for an hour with New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu who could be another potential rival for the GOP Presidential nomination. But former President Trump, still he's the front runner with roughly 30-point lead ahead of DeSantis in national polling averages. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more.


RON DESANTIS, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: How are you doing? And it smells really good, I'll tell you that.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is hitting the campaign trail.

DESANTIS: Is that a milkshake?

ZELENY: Gearing up to launch his Whitehouse bid next week. He's sharpening his electability argument against Donald Trump telling Republicans it's time to shed their loyalty to the former President if they hope to win back the Whitehouse.

DESANTIS: It's going to require a lot of fight and it's going to require that we do a lot of different things.

ZELENY: In a visit to New Hampshire today, DeSantis touted his Florida record as a conservative blueprint for the nation.

DESANTIS: We passed that in Florida.

ZELENY: Even his Fallout intensified from his escalating fight with Disney, which pulled the plug on a $1 billion office complex development in Florida. Republican rivals blasted the Governor's feud with Trump suggesting DeSantis had been caught in the mousetrap. DeSantis defended his oversight of the entertainment giant and his parental rights and Education Act, which critics have dubbed but don't say gay bill that first sparked his battle with Disney.

DESANTIS: I know people try to chirp and say this or that. The chance of us backing down from that is zero.

ZELENY: After months of flirting with a campaign, DeSantis is poised to formally join the Republican contest next week, convening top donors to a meeting in Miami. Today he got an early taste of the fight awaiting him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron DeSantis sales tax had a plan to make you pay more with a sales tax here.

ZELENY: And a sales tax there.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everywhere as a sales tax.

ZELENY: As the Trump super PAC took aim at his answers for supporting a national sales tax during his years in Congress. DeSantis brushed aside the criticism and pointed Republicans to his record as governor.

DESANTIS: It's easy to be a front-runner. It's easy to go out and take positions that are really popular at the time. It's harder to dig in and really cut against the grain.

ZELENY: The field of GOP Presidential Candidates is swiftly growing with Senator Tim Scott filing paperwork today ahead of a formal campaign announcement Monday in South Carolina. Fred Platt, a New Hampshire State Representative said Republicans are sizing up the contenders.

FRED PLATT, NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: They're looking for a candidate I think with less baggage that Trump is carrying with them now.

ZELENY (on camera): Do you think Republicans also are looking for a candidate who can win back the Whitehouse?

PLATT: Yes. But it's not clear who that is right now. And, frankly, even though Trump has got his strong supporters and may take a primary. But I'm not sure you can win a general election.


ZELENY: And Republican voters say they are indeed looking for someone who can win back the Whitehouse. The question, of course, who that may be. This field of candidates is growing very quickly here. Senator Tim Scott announcing on Monday, Governor DeSantis getting in the middle of next week, we believe.

Now this is clearly a race that is going to be dominated by the former President Donald Trump. But there is a sense of some exhaustion with him out in the country. The question is how this race unfolds this summer, the first Republican debate only three months away. Victor and Amara.

BLACKWELL: Jeff's Zeleny, thanks so much. Up next, the conversation or consideration that might upset some kids. The USDA is considering whether to eliminate flavored milk from elementary and middle school menus. We'll tell you why and why there are tens of thousands of people getting into this conversation online on both sides of the conversation. Let's do it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLACKWELL: The Biden administration is weighing whether to make some major changes to school meals, a proposal released by the Department of Agriculture suggests eliminating flavored milk options from elementary and middle schools or keeping the flavored milk options on the menu and limiting the amount of added sugars in the drink.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said that more than 15 million kids every day get breakfast and nearly 30 million gets kid lunch there every day. And milk comes with that.

Now the change would improve the health he says and the welfare of U.S. children. Here with me now to discuss further is Jeremy West. He's the CFO of the Urban School Food Alliance. Jeremy, good to have you chocolate milk strawberry milk in schools. Where does your group stand?

JEREMY WEST, CEO, URBAN SCHOOL FOOD ALLIANCE: Good morning. Thanks, Victor Amara for helping raise awareness about the important role that school meals plays. And yes, there is flavored milk in school meals. Here at USFA, we represent the nation's largest school districts, and we think it should be left as it is. Currently, the standard allows for chocolate milk or flavored milk to be served that's 1 percent with their meals.

The other proposal that they're thinking about and USDA has become quite the controversy. There has been over 90,000 comments through USDA, but what's unique is that they're offering a choice. They've come to us in a different way a school food professionals to say should we do a which is maybe restrict flavored milk for elementary and middle school students. Or B, should we leave it as it is and offer 1 percent and I'll continue to offer that with meals as we have in the past.

BLACKWELL: So you say keep it as it is. Now let me just for the sake of the conversation argue the other side of it. Too much sugar. Kids don't need any other additional source of sugar and health experts, pediatricians have said that these early years are when palates are developed when kids discernment determine what they like, what they'll gravitate toward. And if you're giving them the option of strawberry milk or chocolate milk then that will make it more likely that they will throughout their teenage years and early adult years go for sweetened drinks and of course that may lead to obesity.


WEST: And certainly added sugar is a concern for our nation's children. I think that chocolate milk that was the wrong fight for that. It drives participation, it helps students come in and get a lunch that is been proven to be that some of the healthiest meals that they'll receive for the child.

And so I think what's getting discounted or discredited in that conversation is that milk also is a great vehicle for offering protein and calcium. And it helps build muscles and the nervous system and our bones. And we want students to consume milk.

And so yes, it has a little added sugar, about six, seven grams that has come down drastically over the last decade, as our dairy producers and industry have really stepped up to make it healthier over the years.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I've read the untold one of my producers that we're focusing on the wrong part of the tray, right. To focus on the milk, we should maybe looking at the chicken nuggets that are covered in breading and what else is there and maybe some of the pizza.

What -- Is there a way to balance the meal so that yes, you need kids to get the vitamin A the vitamin D, the niacin and calcium and all from milk that the rest of the tray can balance to accommodate for the sugar in the milk?

WEST: Yes, Victor, I think that's a great point is that really, we need to consider the whole diet of the child and what they're eating over the course of the week at schools. And so there are schools that are doing a really good job they have over the last decade since the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act came out, really cleaned up what's on the tray for students, but I'm more concerned about sugar overall, particularly at breakfast, because of the way the program is set up.

Schools are not funded to offer protein items. So inherently, there's going to be more sugar offered in the bread items that are frequently offered to students at breakfast. I'm more concerned about antibiotic use. That's why we helped launch a first time ever across the country procurement and development of chicken products that eliminate antibiotics and eliminate all these ingredients of concern. And we're doing that right now as a pilot in schools to bring those healthier food items to the tray.

BLACKWELL: Jeremy, one more thing. I'm getting a wrap from my producer. But I'm going to override that just because I find this to be so interesting that the amount of time kids have to eat lunch now, some kids only had 25 minutes from walking in the cafeteria to walk it up. I can -- no I never really had problems just like wolfing down at lunch. But if you're young kids, that is not nearly enough time isn't right.

WEST: No, no, I want you to think about those first graders we've all seen them. They come and that's the year that most of them lose their front teeth. And now we've shuffled them into this line, they've got 25 minutes from the time they get to the classroom to the time they need to be done. And so by the time they get through that line, we want them to eat these fresh fruits and vegetables. But by the time they get to their seat, oftentimes they only have 10 to 12 minutes to eat.

Now, that's not something USDA is going to address through regulation or Congress through legislation probably but it's something we really need to be thinking about, certainly on our local levels, and in our state governments about how can we address giving students enough time to eat because we can put the best food on the tray ever, but they'll have time to eat it. Then they're not getting the nutrition they need.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You give a toothless first grader an apple. He's going to need more than 25 minutes to get it down. Jeremy West, thank you so much for being with us and we'll be right back.



WALKER: The mother of Parkland School shooting victim Joaquin Oliver is finding a new way to shine a light on gun violence. Just a warning though this subject matter could be upsetting for some viewers.

She just released a new picture book called "Joaquin's First School Shooting," on the cover is an illustration of her son walking to school with flowers in his hands. That was the day that he died. The inside is filled with rhymes and bright colors, but also horrifying scenes. Like many picture books, it has cutouts to help flip the pages. But these cutouts that you see on the cover there, or at least there on the left are bullet holes.

Patricia Oliver is joining us now. And Patricia, I really appreciate you joining us. Look, this isn't a children's book even though it looks like one. This is a book for politicians. Why did you choose a picture book to try to reach lawmakers?

PATRICIA OLIVER, MOTHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM, JOAQUIN OLIVER: Well, first of all, good morning, and thank you for having me here today. We decided to take action in a different way. You've been seeing us since we lost Joaquin working five years ago. We've been trying to do our best to send a message in through art. We decided this time with a children's book. We work along with several advertising companies. And then we were presented to this project and then we were following all the process.

We thought that was a very good tool to touch really the fibers of these politicians in a very dramatic and easy vocabulary because it's very childish, the way that the narrative goes through the book. So that was the main reason why we decided to move on this way.

WALKER: You know, in what ingenious way to try to reach lawmakers and gain their attention.


I mean, when I saw the cover of the book, my, my heart stopped, you know, as a human as a mother, as an American. I mean, it's heartbreaking to even read this title Joaquin's First School Shooting as if like, you know, it's your first walk or your first, you know, time doing something like that's so normal.

Can you -- I want to talk about how lawmakers have been responding to your book. But firstly, tell me about the story in the book, because you're -- you go -- you get straight to the point.

OLIVER: Yes. The book walks you through the moment of that day that they went through Joaquin on his friends, everybody that was in that moment. And it's very dramatic, because you, first of all, you don't expect them while you're going to see inside the book. And the way that is written is in a way that you feel, and then the words that they are more powerful are in red.

So when you go through that, and even -- if you're not a mom, you're a regular human being, you have to -- it touch your fibers, because it's really, really, really sad to see the process of them going through that moment in a very childish way.

So you see little kids, you know, the old illustrations are taking you through the worst case scenario of any kid that can go through. And the response of these politicians is being the same way that I was expecting. This was a way to make them understand that we have to take action. We depend on them to take action and move forward with the laws and every single need, that we have to put on the table, every single discussion that we have to put on the table in order to me to be able to see a difference because we haven't seen on the contrary. We've been seeing more shootings every single day in different kinds.

WALKER: Exactly. Just quickly, have you spoken or shown your book met with Republican lawmakers? I'm asked that because as you know, Republican lawmakers are the ones who, you know, have not been on board trying to pass any kind of sensible gun reform laws.

OLIVER: Well, I was fortunate, I will say, to be able to meet a one Republican lady from Florida. Her name is Laurel Lee. And she was very receptive. She act like a mom. She was very touch when she saw the book, she saw the cover of the book, and I explained who I was. And then I asked her to read the book for me. And she started reading the book, and she was just out of control. She couldn't handle it.

She also told me I have a 10 years old and I fear every time that I'm sending my daughter to school, and I said to her, you have to think about your daughter because your daughter has to feel the same way. She doesn't know how what is going to happen. And if something's going to happen.

So, we can, we shouldn't be stopping to live in this fear. We have to be in a common ground and understand that we have to look for a solution and it's up to you all. It doesn't matter what party you are. It's a matter of, you know, to understand that we're losing us. We're losing our life. We don't know if tomorrow we're going to make it or not.

WALKER: Well, your book is incredibly powerful. What a smart way to try to reach people and the fact that you get up every morning as a mother who lost her 17-year-old son to a school shooting with a purpose is really moving. Patricia Oliver, thank you.

BLACKWEL: A year ago, a man started shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, he killed 19 students and two teachers. One of those students was Lexi Rubio, a 10-year-old who made on a roll earlier that day. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz spoke to Lexi's parents one year later about how they still do not have answers.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What is your understanding of what went wrong that day?

KIMBERLY MATA-RUBIO, LEXI RUBIO'S MOTHER: My understanding is the first group of officers that come in here shot at the retreat, and they never go back in. They let children die in that classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding? No, that's classroom.

MATA-RUBIO: And I can't even explain to you what they've taken from me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in the class.

MATA-RUBIO: It's more than just lives.


You know, maybe Lexi's gone immediately, but that's what they've taken from me those answers had they engaged immediately and my child is deceased then I know in my heart that she wasn't scared very long. But because they waited so long now I'll never know I don't know if it was fast. I don't know if it took 30, 40 minutes. and that's hard. That's hard to sit with.


BLACKWEL: Watch an all new episode of The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on CNN. We'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: Parts of the U.S. are under air quality alerts after smoke from wildfires in Canada moved into the region.

WALKER: CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar joining us now with more. What's the latest on the wildfires?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so take a look at this video and of Calgary, again it's very hard to see off in the distance from that haze, but then you have to remember you're breathing that same smoke into your lungs.


It's for all of these wildfires spread out across Canada. And you can see that smoke isn't just located where the fires are, it's spreading elsewhere. And not just in Canada but down into the US. Two main focal point areas, the one in West portions of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming down to Colorado, the secondary area of concern is more focused over areas of the Great Lakes.

And here's the thing as we progress over the next 24 to 48 hours, you've got multiple waves of that smoke. So here's a look at today. You've got a lot of these this smoke around the Great Lakes spreading into the Northeast. By the time we get to Monday, additional smoke begins to push down into portions of the Midwest as well as the Northeast.

BLACKWELL: All right, Allison, thank you. We'll see you again in an hour.