Fort Meade has been selected to participate in the Healthy Base Initiative (HBI) alongside 13 other Department of Defense installations around the country. The HBI is a demonstration project for the Defense Department’s Operation Live Well, another wellness venture designed to facilitate good health within the total force, including their families and civilians.
The HBI will assist local communities and their workforces with adopting healthier lifestyles. As part of this initiative, a joint/regional farmers market has been proposed for installation at the base.
According to Military OneSource, a Department of Defense-funded military information resource, more than a third of adults in America are obese, and a fourth of prospective military recruits are turned down due to their weight. In addition, obesity and tobacco use in the military have added more than $3 billion every year in health care costs and lost duty days to the defense budget. The HBI has been introduced in response to such health concerns.
Researchers from the RAND Corp., a nonprofit research and analysis organization, have determined that Army recruits who are not physically fit have become increasingly more common. Unhealthy trends present in today’s society, such as sedentary lifestyles and a heavy use of Internet and other electronic media, were presented as possible explanations for the wave of unfit army recruits.
The HBI, which will help combat these trends to bring about a healthier Army, is designed to help people in the workforce take charge of their health — as a healthy force is essential to national security.
Specifically, the HBI will promote awareness of poor health choices while offering communities the tools they need to get healthy. The aim is to spread even more awareness about health, and to provide more tools to facilitate fitness within the military and local communities, than any other Army health program.
In addition, Lisa Terry of the Fort Meade Regional Growth Committee (FMRGC) recently contacted Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) in order to begin talks about bringing a farmers market to the post as part of the HBI.
The FMRGC’s plan to implement the market is in response to health concerns surrounding the local community. Civilians living on (and near) Fort Meade have noticed a lack of fresh, affordable produce in the area, hindering their efforts to eat properly.
The HBI aims to bring local produce directly on post. In addition, partnerships with local farmers are being discussed. They could result in running a food
bus that would take the initiative off post, thus making healthy food even more accessible.
Localities involved in the HBI include Howard and Anne Arundel counties, with Prince George’s and Carroll counties considering joining the effort. The AAEDC is expected to meet with Fort Meade representatives within the next few weeks to further discuss plans.