Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced a five-point program on Thursday morning to attack childhood obesity and return more control of the school lunch program to local administrators. One objective of the plan (attached below) is to connect Texas farmers with the schools to help develop healthy food menus that children will actually eat.
“What we have been doing to fight childhood obesity for the last ten years has not solved the obesity epidemic in Texas, In fact, it’s only gotten worse,” Commissioner Miller said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “We want to stop creating healthy trash cans. We must encourage kids to stop throwing away their meals, because with them goes taxpayer dollars. Instead, we want all schools to employ the best practices many already utilize to create and serve healthy meals that children actually want to eat.”
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, Commissioner Miller said, “We have got to put more control back in the hand of the people who see what is happening with these meals. What we have been doing is not working. I want to see us creating healthy students, not healthy trash cans.”
In some schools around Texas students are forced to take bland looking and/or tasting meals whether they want them or not. Frequently those meals go straight into the trash and the student then finds some other, non-healthy source of food.
“We have to look past the deep-fry machines and diet sodas,” Miller said. “We will teach our schools how to present food in an appetizing way so that children will be more likely to want to actually eat.”
Miller told Breitbart Texas he is working closely with Scotts Miracle Grow to distribute gardening kits to kindergartens across the state. “We will hook these young children up with local farmers to learn how to actually grown their own healthy food,” Miller explained.
“Texas agriculture matters,” Miller stated. “That is a new slogan we have put in place here at the Texas Department of Agriculture. Our goal is to educate the public as to how Texas agriculture impacts their lives on a daily basis. It is a $160 billion industry in Texas. One out of every seven workers in Texas is directly or indirectly related to Texas agriculture. It is more than just a slogan. This department touches peoples’ lives more every day than any other Texas agency.”
Miller said he is often asked, “What does this old cowboy know about nutrition?” He responds to that by saying, “I was a school teacher. I taught vocational agriculture for five years and I served on a school board where I learned about the difficulties schools have with mandated federal programs. This is why I am so determined to return local control to the schools.”
Miller’s wife, Debra Miller, also worked as a school superintendent and serves on a school board.
With local control, some Texas schools are already showing leadership in finding unique delivery methods for healthy foods. “In Pflugerville,” Miller illustrated, “the school have set up a mobile food delivery truck – a Taco Truck. The kids love it and they are getting healthy food they will eat. Other schools are setting up pizzerias and salad bars to entice students to eat healthier foods.”
“We have to get away from the institutional fool mentality,” the Commissioner said. “You can just slap food on a plastic tray and expect children to eat it.”
Miller believes his five-point plan (attached below) will bring back more control of the Texas lunch and breakfast school programs to local administrators who can see the results.
As part of Commissioner Miller’s plan, the Food and Nutrition Division at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) will do the following:
• Institute community health fairs,
• Continue to educate Texans at conferences around the state,
• Teach decision-makers how to create healthy environments,
• Collaborate with student leaders on healthy initiatives,
• Institute training sessions on food presentation,
• Increase farm to school programs and
• Unveil a Farm Fresh Fridays campaign.
“Parents, superintendents, principals and locally elected school board members are best equipped to make decisions for their own communities, and I trust them to make the right choice for their schools,” the Commissioner concluded. “We are working to put an end to a one-size-fits-all approach mandated from Austin. We want families, teachers and school districts to know the Texas Department of Agriculture supports their decisions and efforts to teach Texas students about making healthy choices. What works well in Dallas might not work in the Rio Grande Valley, and what works well in Lufkin might not work as well in Lubbock.”
“Our new nutrition policy promotes individual responsibility, freedom and liberty,” he said. “It puts an end to well-intentioned state mandates that have done little or nothing to solve the state’s childhood obesity crisis. Instead, they have resulted in millions of dollars of food not being eaten and thrown away, and I’m here to put an end to that.”
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.