Reducing Food Insecurity in Colorado Should Be a Back To School Priority for Policymakers
Mission: Readiness report highlights importance of school lunches in supporting healthy development and learning
As teachers prepare classrooms, parents check off back-to-school supply lists and students hurry to finish summer reading assignments, we are pleased to share our 2021 report: Reducing Food Insecurity in Colorado, about the important role that school lunches can play in reducing hunger and improving health and learning for our students.
This report, released by Mission: Readiness, our coalition of retired admirals and generals strengthening national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit and stay out of trouble, illustrates the important connections between healthy meals, healthy development and student performance – the foundations of ensuring that children are physically and academically prepared for whatever career they choose, including military service.
Malnutrition, which can manifest as obesity, has been impacting military readiness for decades. Nationwide, 71 percent of young people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service, and obesity disqualifies 31 percent of youth from serving, if they so choose.
As the report notes, Congress established the National School Lunch Program following World War II as a “measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s children” by ensuring they had access to nutritious meals. But the program is as relevant as ever, given the notable increase in food insecurity during COVID-19.
We applaud the efforts of federal and state policymakers to expand access to school meals in the last 18 months and hope this issue remains on the priority list as we continue to chart our path out of COVID-19 and to a stronger future for the next generation of leaders.
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