School lunch programs matter to US military, national security

I was disappointed to read about efforts to roll back healthier school meals (“GOP looks to take a bite out of school lunch regs,” March 3). As a retired rear admiral, I view the school lunch program as one of our most important assets in the battle against obesity, which is a major problem for the military because almost one in three young adults in the U.S. is too overweight to serve.

Healthy eating and exercise habits start at home, but schools should be a focal point in combating childhood obesity because many kids get up to half of their daily calories at school. The good news is that 90 percent of schools nationwide are implementing updated nutrition standards through the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that replaced fattening, salt- and sugar-ridden foods with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.

Plate waste (food thrown away) has always been a part of cafeteria lunch programs and is often cited by detractors from the new lunch standards. Yet a study published just this week by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity showed that when the new guidelines went into effect, students ate nearly 20 percent more of the entrees and 40 percent more of the vegetables they took, effectively decreasing the amount thrown away. The study also showed that 22 percent more children chose to add fruit to their plates and that fruit consumption has remained high. The Rudd study is not the first to verify gaining acceptance and less plate waste.

These findings are also supported by a recent survey of school administrators who report widespread student acceptance of the healthier meals across all grade levels. Equally important, 72 percent of parents favored updated school nutrition standards in a nationwide poll by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and American Heart Association.

We should continue to support with dollars and training any schools that are having a tougher time serving healthier meals, but like our armed forces, we should not stop when the going gets tough. The long-term effect of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is nothing but positive for our children’s health. We need to keep these school nutrition standards on track because when our children’s health and our national security are at stake, retreat is not an option.

From Casey W. Coane, retired rear admiral, U.S. Navy, Marietta, Ga.


 

When we all have a little, we can all provide for ourselves

Every other civilized country pays a living wage and provides health insurance. They give their citizens the ability to take care of family, have adequate vacation and a livable minimum wage. Our president, on the other hand, is turning this country upside-down by his attempt to compromise to provide a little for all of us. 

When we are healthy, and do not use emergency rooms for basic healthcare, costs come down. When working people are guaranteed a living wage, that money is spent, and the economy is better. Companies sell more. It is basic economics.

President Obama, by not making healthcare universal, did little good. He has confused the issue. We should use Medicare as our example. Has anyone on Medicare refused it or once having it, canceled? 

When we all have something, we as Americans will be that much more, not less. When we all have a little and can provide for ourselves, we all do better. 

From Norm Stewart, Aventura, Fla.