Historic City News learned that Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, joined students and teachers at Mill Creek Elementary School in St. Augustine today.
Putnam meets with Elizabeth Binninger, Director of Food and Nutrition for the St. John’s County School District, to learn more about how they are improving the nutritional value of school lunches.
In addition to his business plans, the Commissioner enjoyed lunch with the Mill Creek students; to see the kitchens, visit school gardens and eat lunch with students
Putnam is an advocate of local agricultural businesses. He sees cafeterias in the local school districts as excellent nutritional partners for the local farmer.
Putnam demonstrated his point when he held up a sealed baggie of snap peas and carrots in the kitchen. “These haven’t been sitting in a warehouse for 30 days,” Putnam said. “They’re crisp and they haven’t lost their nutritional value.”
If a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is granted, as expected, his department will assume oversight of school cafeterias on January 1st. Putnam told Historic City News reporters that when and if that happens, his department would be able to allow cafeterias to collaborate more effectively with local farmers.
Putnam’s new director of food, nutrition and wellness, Robin Safley, said about 45 staffers will be moving to her department, and that their top logistical priority right now is to make sure that reimbursements to local school districts for the meals they serve are not delayed.