Today, the military faces a recruiting crisis, and poor nutrition has led to an obesity epidemic with nearly one in three young Americans being too overweight to serve. Obesity is a leading reason why 71 percent of young people in North Dakota, and 69 percent in Minnesota, cannot join the military.
The farm bill’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the country’s largest food program that can help children get the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults. Children comprise 44 percent of SNAP recipients, with 31 percent under the age of four.
SNAP includes several initiatives to promote better nutrition. The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program supports local programs that provide incentives for SNAP participants to purchase more fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets. Another program called SNAP-Ed helps families improve child nutrition and prevent obesity by teaching participants about nutrition, physical activity and ways to maximize the value of their SNAP dollars.
I applaud North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson for their leadership in crafting a strong reauthorization of the farm bill. I urge all of our federal policymakers to support this bill so more children will be healthy in the future, and fit to serve our country in uniform if they choose to do so.