[UPDATE] THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 24, 2011 -
Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation Thursday that transfers oversight of the state’s school lunch program to state agriculture officials, who will now be responsible for providing meals to the state’s 2.6 million school children.
A top priority of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the transfer of school lunch oversight from the Department of Education comes as the state tries to educate a generation of children and their parents on the health benefits of a balanced diet while opening the public school system to Florida agricultural products.
Putnam hailed the governor’s decision to sign the measure (SB 1312), dubbed the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act. The measure was an agency priority, with Putnam arguing that most federal nutrition programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that overseeing school lunches would dovetail efficiently with other agency responsibilities.
“Together, we’re going to direct more of Florida’s fresh fruits and vegetables to Florida students,” Putnam said in a statement. “We’re going to help Florida’s children build healthier eating habits. And we’re going to take on the challenges of the childhood obesity epidemic.”
In 2008, 17 percent of American children between the ages of 6 and 19 were obese, triple the rate in 1976, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children and adolescents, the CDC found, are more likely to develop obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, which used to be limited to adults. Another study of five to 17-year-olds found that 70% of obese children had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 39% had at least two risk factors.
The law transfers 45 full-time equivalent positions and an estimated $810 million in federal funds and $16.8 million in general revenue from the Department of Education to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for the administration of the school food and nutrition programs.
In May, Putnam said he was considering placing restrictions on the kinds of snack food that could be distributed from school vending machines as one avenue to encourage better eating habits among students.
Public schools have become the conduits for programs aimed at improving the diets of growing children, many of whom rely upon free and reduced school lunches to meet their daily nutritional needs. School breakfast and summer lunch programs have over the years become more widespread as officials attempt to improve the diets of a generation of young people more familiar with the names of fast food chains than vegetables.
“With the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act signed today, we can continue our mission of ending childhood hunger and extending nutrition to all of Florida’s children,” said Debra Susie, Executive Director for Florida Impact and the Florida Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - June 23, 2011 -
Gov. Rick Scott has signed bills limiting lawsuits against automakers and giving the state's agriculture commissioner authority over school food programs.
Scott signed the new laws Thursday.
The lawsuit measure known as SB 142 will make it more difficult
for injured people to win product liability damages from automakers
and other manufacturers.
The school nutrition law -- SB 1312 -- was a priority for
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. It shifts oversight of lunch
and other food programs to Putnam's department from the Department of Education.
The State Board of Education had discussed the idea of limiting
sugary drinks in schools, but it no longer will have the authority
to do that.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam issued the following statement today in response to Governor Rick Scott signing the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act (S.B. 1312) into law:
“Today, Governor Rick Scott signed the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act (S.B. 1312) into law. I applaud Governor Scott for embracing our collective effort to improve nutrition in school cafeterias across the State of Florida. Together, we’re going to direct more of Florida’s fresh fruits and vegetables to Florida students. We’re going to help Florida’s children build healthier eating habits. And we’re going to take on the challenges of the childhood obesity epidemic. I want to personally thank Representative Seth McKeel and Senator Gary Siplin for their leadership in this effort. With the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act signed into law, we’re putting the children of Florida and their health first.”