JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Seventy-eight percent of Mississippi military prospects are not fit to fight, according to data collected by the U. S. Department of Defense. Although it is a national problem, Mississippians are at the top of the least fit in the country.
"Now, we're at the realization that we have the human resources that can't read and write properly, is overweight and can't function in the environments of wartime," said Major General Larry Harrington, U. S. Army (Retired). "All these things go into effect."
Major General Harrington is among Mississippi's military elite serving the non profit group, Mission: Readiness; Military Leaders for Kids. They are standing in support of reauthorization of the Children's Nutrition Act this year.
"If we do this aggressively right now, the benefits of that will not be seen for years," said Major General Erik Hearon, U. S. Air Force (Retired).
The Child Nutrition Act was first passed at the end of World War II, when military recruits had become malnourished and underweight. Brigadier General Robert Crear, U. S. Army (Retired) said while the issue has changed 180 degrees, the solution has not.
"We are committed at the local level to implement things that will help kids have a choice," he said. "That's what we want to do. Make sure they have a choice."
Rose Tate, the food service director for North Bolivar Consolidated School District, said she applied for and received as many federal grants as possible to improve nutrition for her students.
"We try to make sure that we give them what is healthy for them but, at the same time, something they will eat and something they do like," she said.