School lunches cited as a national security threat – Is it the mystery meat?
Posted by mandyf on April 15, 2012
School lunches have been called gross, unappetizing, and likened to various forms of excrement for decades, but never before have they been called a national security risk. When most people hear the term national security risk they think of spies, terrorists, bombs, rogue submarine captains with a nuclear arsenal, or whatever they read in a Tom Clancy novel. It is doubtful that anyone has ever thought of tater-tots in that category of threats, but believe it or not there is a group that currently does.
A report released on 4/20/10 cites that 9 million Americans between 17 and 24 exceed the current allowable weight standards to join the military. Their concern is that the trend will continue and that by 2030 there won’t be enough slim and trim Americans to meet recruiting requirements for military. These learned retirees do admit that there are plenty of other factors barring young men and women for enlisting, but weight problems are now the leading cause for rejection of applicants.
Rear Admiral James Barnett Jr. said “When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice.” He is adamant that the future of the military rests upon reversing the trend of child obesity rates in America. The other problem they cite is that the prevalence overweight soldiers on active duty being discharged is on the rise as well and costing tens of millions of dollars to train replacements each year.
What is in a certain way of thinking humorous about all of this is the last time the military got involved in the school lunch program was back in WWII when they argued the meals weren’t healthy and high enough in calories to promote growth in young people and get them sufficiently up to weight standards to enlist and cited the issue as a problem threatening national security.
How times have changed.
What people seem to be missing in all of this is that the issue of childhood obesity as is being primarily discussed here is not something which can be solely blamed on school lunches. For most kids school lunch is one of their three daily meals although for some breakfast is also consumed and school meals account for 2/3 of their weekday meals. Nobody is taking into account what is being eaten at home, that kids spend more and more time in front of computers, TV’s, and game consoles instead of being outside engaged in physical activity. Furthermore, not all kids eat school lunches at all and it has to be known that there are obese kids in that group as well.
Speaking on the grounds of anonymity, the former Ssgt. That was discharged based on being overweight argues the guidelines are the problem. He points out that during the year he was monitored for his weight that he passed the annual physical readiness test, played three 45 minute or better full court pickup basketball games each week, could swim a mile in the ocean, completed a mini-triathlon, and also played a full host of organized sports year round.
Furthermore, he worked a desk job designing computer programs and was never in all likelihood ever going to see a combat zone – he hadn’t even touched a firearm aside from firing 30 rounds in basic training. At the end of his year of monitoring it was still determined that he was overweight and unfit for service resulting in a discharge with three years left on his current contract and seven years of honorable service. Not to worry though, he landed a much higher paying job with superior benefits at Apple Computers.
The point being, when does carrying a few extra pounds pose an actual problem? What is the real measure of fitness? How can anyone make a blanket accusation that school lunches are a danger to national security when McDonalds, Burger King, Pop-Tarts, candy, soda, physical inactivity, and a host of other things likely shoulder a much larger portion of the blame?
Sure school lunches could be better. The mystery meat factor could be reduced, foods that use fewer chemicals and hormones could be sought out. All things considered, and no denying obesity – especially among children – is a problem, let’s look more at what’s going on outside of school and how to get kids off their butts to solve the problem than placing it all on school lunches. After all – the learned gents spearheading this cited on their own it is the leading cause of discharges in the military right now and those troops aren’t eating school lunches.
Healthier school lunches are a good thing to aim for – nobody is going to argue that. Just don’t lay the entire problem at the feet of that one factor alone and omit everything else that is inconvenient. Think about it.