Retired U.S. generals are joining the chorus of produce industry, public health and medical organizations calling for Congress to extend the Child Nutrition Act of 2010 citing childhood obesity as a threat to national security. The retired military leaders said they support the healthier meal standards for school meals, which have been in effect since fall 2012 and require more fruits and vegetables.
Robert Schulte, retired U.S. Army major general, said in the report he knows first-hand how difficult school nutrition programs can be to manage. He applauded the state’s school districts for their successful implementation of the new standards.
The report cites statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that show 100% of North Dakota schools are meeting the new requirements. More than 95% of schools nationwide are meeting the requirements, according to USDA.
Some critics have said that the standards amount to an unfunded federal mandate and are causing school districts financial hardships resulting in less than 100% compliance.
“We must turn the tide on the obesity epidemic by instilling good eating and exercise habits from an early age. It’s critical to remember that children consume up to half of their daily calories while at school and out of sight of their parents,” retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jerald Engelman said in the release.
The generals cited data from a research report published in June in the journal “Childhood Obesity” that indicated the school meal standards are working. Comparing the 2012 school year with 2014, the researchers found students choosing fruit increased to 66%, up from 54%. They also found students consumption of entrees increased to 84%, up from 71% in 2012.