Adam Putnam is joining a group of state lawmakers and agency leaders in an ambitious attempt to get Floridians to eat and live healthier.
The state Agriculture Commissioner, together with Sens. Rene Garcia and Bill Montford among others are launching “Living Healthy in Florida,” a new multi-agency campaign beginning Wednesday to help educate residents on better ways to buy and prepare meals, using fresh Florida foods.
“This initiative is the first of its kind to combine the resources of elected officials, state agencies, nonprofits and others in order to communicate consistent information to Florida’s children, families and senior adults on healthy eating, good nutrition and active living,” Putnam. “Using peak harvest times as a guide, individuals and families can learn how to reduce grocery shopping budgets, prepare healthy recipes that are easy to make, and learn how to integrate fresh Florida produce into any meal.”
Garcia approached the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services last year with a way to introduce a cohesive message to Floridians on living and eating healthy.
Living Healthy in Florida came out of that proposal.
“Living Healthy in Florida was created to provide the tools to promote a healthy lifestyle for all Floridians,” said Garcia, who envisions it as a tool to teach kids, adults, families and seniors — in both English and in Spanish — throughout schools, hospitals, communities and in private businesses.
Montford, chair of the House Committee of Agriculture, is also on board with the plan.
“I am proud to be a part of this unique partnership,” Montford said. “I look forward to seeing this campaign expand and provide information to people across the state on how to live a more active lifestyle and eat nutritious fresh, Florida products.”
A host agency leaders, including Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong; Florida Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Charles Corley, among others, came together over the past year to create a tool kit, now available at www.livinghealthyinfl.com.
Included are common health and wellness messages, as well as a harvesting calendar of Florida fruits and vegetables for families to plan healthy meals around the region’s produce seasons. The initial program will also include information on 30 products, with room to add more of over 300 products grown in Florida.
Putnam says there are already plans underway to add info on 30 new products by 2015.
For agencies such as the Department of Children and Families, United Health Care Community Plan and Florida Healthy Kids, as well as private businesses, information is provided in a format for easy sharing on websites, newsletters and social media.
Each school district in the state gets an electronic copy of the toolkit, and the department will be working with the districts throughout the year, to coordinate harvest schedule changes with meal planning.
Putnam points out that in the past two years, school breakfasts and lunches have been incorporating more foods coming from Florida— crops like strawberries, sweet corn and citrus.
The goal of “Living Healthy in Florida,” he adds, is to make the most of the well-established link between proper nutrition and academic success.
More information is available online at www.FreshFromFlorida.com.