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Counting on Congress for Healthier School Nutrition


In October, we wrote about a report from Mission: Readiness called “Retreat is Not an Option,” which showed that about 1 in 4 young Americans are too overweight to join the military, and the percentage of active duty service members who are obese has increased to 12 percent―a 61 percent increase since 2002.

Mission: Readiness, you may recall, is a network of 500 retired senior military leaders dedicated to fighting for children’s health, and in particular they focus on childhood obesity.

This past Veterans Day, the group launched a new campaign that uses an Instagram-based calendar to count the days that Congress continues to take a stand to uphold healthier school nutrition standards. Initially, the campaign will run until December 11, the current deadline for action on appropriations, though the organization notes that it will start back with the new session of Congress in January 2015 if necessary.

The online calendar also features quotes from top retired military personnel, including retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. James M. Loy, who says, “Every day, young men and women find out they are simply too heavy and physical unfit to qualify for the honor of military service, and you better believe obesity is a national security issue when nearly one in four young Americans is too overweight to enlist.”

The spark for this campaign comes from what Mission: Readiness sees as two imminent threats to “science-based school meal and snack standards” in the next session of Congress.

“First, a recent House proposal for the 2015 fiscal year agriculture appropriations would establish a waiver process to allow schools to opt out of the updated nutrition standards,” explains David Carrier of Mission: Readiness. “The debate over this damaging waiver could intensify in December when negotiations around an omnibus appropriations bill are likely to take place.”

Also on the group’s radar is the reauthorization of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act which expires in fall 2015, and could impact school meal standards. Hearings in the Senate on the reauthorization have already begun, but conversation is expected to really pick up in early 2015.

If you’d like to get involved with the campaign, you can follow the campaign and share the graphics on Instagram @MissionReadiness, on Twitter @Mission_Ready or on Facebook. The calendar is also posted on their website.