WASHINGTON, June 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Facing major challenges around obesity and food insecurity, our nation's children need nutritious, balanced meals when school is out in order to maintain their health—and to protect America's long-term national security.
That's the take-home point of a new report, "Bridging the Summer Meals Gap," released by members of the organization Mission: Readiness this week.
Three members of Mission: Readiness, Major General (Ret.) Marcia M. Anderson, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Casey W. Coane, and Major General (Ret.) Malcolm Frost, joined Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, to speak to the urgent need for increasing children's access to nutritious meals.
Mission: Readiness, an organization of more than 750 retired admirals and generals who strive to bolster national security by ensuring that kids stay in school, stay fit, and stay out of trouble, is focused intently on this issue, as 71 percent of young adults cannot qualify for military service, with obesity being one of the main disqualifiers.
The speakers touted increased funding for school and summer meal programs, adapting meals to incorporate available foods while maintaining nutritional standards, and providing additional options for food delivery.
"Regular access to nutritious food is essential for children's health and wellness," said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Chief Executive Officer of Feeding America. "Programs like the Summer Food Service Program help children get the healthy meals they need to achieve their potential in whatever path they choose."
General Anderson underscored Mission: Readiness' commitment to this issue, noting, "This [obesity] trend poses a serious threat to the future health and security of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the retired admirals and generals of Mission: Readiness have been sounding this alarm for over a decade."
Admiral Coane emphasized the importance of federal programs that can fight childhood food insecurity. "The Summer Food Service Program can help address food insecurity and weight gain by providing nutritious meals and physical activity for children throughout the summer," he said.
Finally, General Frost called for reforms that would expand the reach and effectiveness of SFSP, especially in the face of COVID-19. "We should explore innovative mobile food dissemination sites, assistance in addressing the financial strain on low-income families over the summer, and developing private and community food delivery options," he said.
A selection of video highlights may be found HERE.
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SOURCE Mission: Readiness