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Opinion: Healthier School Lunches Benefit Country as a Whole

Opinion: Retired General Says Healthier School Lunches Benefit Country As Whole

Retired general Samuel E. Ebbeson uses his unique perspective to urge schools to not back off from developing healthier lunches that tackle the growing trend of childhood obesity.

As a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, Ebbeson was "responsible for recruitment, retention and related human-resource management of the U.S. Armed Services’ 1.4 million active-duty members," according to his article on Reuters.com.

Ebbeson said that the influx in childhood obesity has had numerous negative effects on the United States military.

"I am alarmed that nearly one in three young adults ages 17 to 24 is too heavy to serve in the military. Among active-duty service members, 12 percent are obese based on their height and weight, an increase of 61 percent since 2002. The military’s health system spends more than $1.5 billion annually treating obesity-related health problems and replacing troops discharged because they are unfit," he said.

As a result, "hundreds of retired admirals and generals" including himself joined Mission:Readiness to "show strong support for the 2010 Child Nutrition Act, which seeks to improve school meals and snacks." 

Ebbeson claims the act significantly helped increase the quality and nutrition value of school lunches and gave way to positive results. 

"The Department of Agriculture reports that 90 percent of the nation’s schools are serving healthier meals. In a recent survey, school administrators reported widespread student acceptance of the healthier meals across all grade levels. Meanwhile, an overwhelming 72 percent of parents favored the improved school nutrition standards," he said, according to the article.

But as schools face obstacles in adhering to the healthier standards, the Department of Agriculture is allowing flexibility. "It has removed caps on proteins because of problems some schools faced and will allow pasta that is not whole grain," Ebbeson said.

"We should continue to support schools that are having a tougher time. But like our armed forces, we should not stop when the going gets tough — especially when so many signs of progress abound."

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

4/15/2015

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