Florida Places Agriculture Department In Charge Of School Lunch Program

July 1, 2011

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation last week 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, the National Automatic Merchandising Association reported. 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 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 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. In response, the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) and the Automatic Merchandisers of Florida have been working on securing an appointment with Commissioner Putnam to discuss NAMA's Fit Pick program and the healthier items now available for vending. For more information, contact Mary Lou Monaghan at [email protected].

Editor’s Insight: The National Automatic Merchandising Association’s “Fit Pick” program has gained a lot of support among government agencies in recent years. This support has given the program a lot of credibility, which extends to private businesses in addition to government accounts. The program offers vending operators a turnkey system for meeting customer requests for healthy options. 07-01-11 by Elliot Maras