SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - One organization is worried the military will not have enough recruits to serve in the future, unless more schools support healthy eating and physical activity.
The Illinois Director of Mission: Readiness, Tim Carpenter, said this group is committed to high quality early childhood programs and ensuring kids stay in school and stay fit.
"We're an organization of retired military leaders, generals and admirals from around the country," Carpenter said.
A new report from Mission: Readiness, said seven out of ten young adults in Illinois are not eligible to join the military.
"Of the 70 percent that are ineligible, about half of that is due to obesity," Carpenter said. "For kids as young as two in Illinois, we see obesity rates of about 14 percent."
Leaders from Mission: Readiness spoke at the Early Learning Center in Springfield to detail the benefits of obesity prevention measures that should begin early in life.
"Research said if we start working with kids are a very young age, we can develop healthy habits that will be with them throughout their lives," Carpenter said.
Principal of the Early Learning Center, Charlena Jackson, said the school tries to focus on getting kids the nutrition they need while they are in the program.
"We have had some weight issues we have been able to identify but really within our program, the way we try to focus on that, is just providing nutritional foods," Jackson said.
The report states while parents help children learn healthy eating and physical habits, schools are also key to curbing obesity.
"Students are engaged in 30 minutes of gross motor outdoor learning play. On days of inclement whether, we do have alternative activities," Jackson said. "If they are a morning student, they receive a morning breakfast. If they are an afternoon student, they get a lunch. They get the correct number of portions that are recommend for their age level."
In the latest state budget, $50 million was given to boost resources for pre-K and birth-to-three services supported by the Early Childhood Block Grant. The Early Learning Center was a recipient of some of these funds.