I recently traveled to the Texas State capitol of Austin for a speaking engagement in the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) “3E’s of Healthy Living 2010 FND Staff Conference.” Prior to the event I was given the opportunity to tour Decker Elementary, a recipient of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. I met with with Manor Independent School District (ISD) staff, Principal Leslie Whitworth and TDA Assistant Commissioner Angela Olige, and we toured the school cafeteria to learn how the funding is benefiting students. It was exciting to see their new equipment, as I am quite passionate about school nutrition.
Decker Elementary has retired their deep fat fryers, and now utilizes a brand new convection oven to cook healthier food, thereby helping fight the good fight against child obesity. The funding also purchased a state-of-the-art computerized kitchen management system to help with food testing, menu tracking and report generation. These improvements also allow the school to prepare fresh foods in the kitchen, instead of relying on the prepackaged kind. The staff is quite happy with their healthier choices in the breakfast and lunch menu, and they encourage students to learn good eating habits. Healthy eating at school is only a part of eliminating obesity in children, but by teaching these positive behaviors in school, kids can bring those good habits home.
After saying farewell, I traveled to the meeting in the conference center at the University of Texas. There I addressed TDA staff from all over the State about the various Special Nutrition Programs for which their department provides oversite. I recognized the outstanding job all of them are doing, and stressed the fact that the healthier changes we are making start at the ground level. Our State partners provide the daily oversight that allows our federal programs to operate efficiently, and thus works with USDA goals to fulfill the Obama Administration’s goals of reducing obesity and ending childhood hunger by 2015.