Putting Education Reform To The Test

How The Department of Agriculture Has Expanded Florida’s Student Food Programs


Commissioner Adam Putnam

School nutrition will be the big topic at a conference in Orlando today.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will tell the Florida Association of District School Superintendents about moving the school nutrition program to his office.

In January, the state’s program moved from the Department of Education to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The move was the required by the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act, passed by the Florida Legislature last year to consolidate the state’s school nutrition programs under one department.

After the bill was signed, Putnam issued a statement saying, “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.”

The Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness oversees the school food program with a goal of enhancing the Farm to School effort with lots of fresh produce for kids.

That includes the use of an online database — Market Maker — which helps schools find growers nearby who have the produce items they need.

Putnam is eager to tell the superintendents about the success of the Summer Food Program. Millions of meals with at least one healthy item were served to kids at Summer Break Spots around Florida.

It’s the first time Putnam has addressed the superintendents’ groups.

His spokesman said Putnam will also discuss the department’s work in identifying school nutrition needs and improving support to the districts.


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