When I spotted a headline asking whether school lunches had become a national security risk, I assumed the story was about a possible threat to children from someone poisoning the lunches.
Nope, the story was about risks to kids from eating the standard cafeteria fare. A group of retired military leaders contend that the offerings on the school trays are making kids too fat to grow up and serve their country.
According to the AP:
A group of retired military officers says high-calorie school lunches are threatening national security.
A study by the group Mission: Readiness finds that school lunches are making American kids so fat that fewer of them can meet the military’s physical fitness standards. That, in turn, is putting recruitment in jeopardy.
A report from the group, being released today, says that 27 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 are too overweight to join the military.
One of the officers, retired Navy Rear Admiral James Barnett Jr., says many young Americans are simply too fat to fight.
The officers are pushing for passage of a wide-ranging nutrition bill that aims to make the nation’s school lunches healthier.
I used to debate this question with one of our food writers who believed that high-calorie school lunches had a big role in the childhood obesity epidemic. I felt the problem was far more likely to be what kids ate at home and how much they ate.
I certainly would like to see better school lunches and the Farm to School program is one way to do that. Farm to School brings healthy food from local farms to schoolchildren with the goal of instilling healthy eating habits.
But we could feed kids arugula, fresh fruits and yogurt for lunch every day at school and still have an obesity problem if they return home to sour cream and onion chips, gummi bears and milkshakes.