KIlLEEN — Retired military officers from Fort Hood and the surrounding areas gathered Friday at the Shilo Inn in Killeen for their monthly Central Texas Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America meeting.
This month’s meeting highlighted upcoming MOAA events and featured guest speaker Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller.
Miller, the 12th commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture, spoke with the retirees about agricultural initiatives within the state of Texas.
Miller touched on a topic that he is passionate about — childhood obesity.
The former agriculture teacher and school board member said he is committed to fighting childhood obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles for Texas schoolchildren.
“Childhood obesity is an epidemic,” Miller said. “We started farm fresh initiatives to get fresh fruits and vegetables in (Texas) schools.”
Miller’s creation of Farm Fresh Fridays and other farm-to-school initiatives resulted in a $14 million increase in the amount of Texas products purchased by schools.
“The items they buy fresh are served fresh,” Miller said. “There are no salts or other additives in the food.”
According to the Square Meals website, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a federally-assisted invitation-only program providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students in participating elementary schools during the school day. The program helps schools create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience and increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.
According to the website, the Killeen Independent School District is not a participant of the program, but uses other programs to provide healthy meals for school-aged children.
“Killeen ISD offers a variety fresh fruits and vegetables daily, through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program,” said Evan Leach, Killeen ISD director for school nutrition. “Our products are sourced locally and delivered weekly to KISD Cafeterias.”
Leach said KISD recognizes the value of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
“We recognize the added benefit of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program and are actively reviewing all federal and state funded programs that will assist with providing healthier choices for students,” he said.
In addition to discussing child obesity, Miller spoke about a consumer protection initiative to round up businesses that fail to register their commercial scales with the TDA. Since the launch of this initiative, Operation Maverick, registrations have increased by 35 percent and more than 2,000 previously unregistered businesses are now monitored by TDA to ensure consumers are protected.
Since taking office in 2015, Miller has reshaped field operations to maximize efficiency for Texas taxpayers. This included increasing the number of consumer protection inspections by 183 percent while decreasing the miles traveled by TDA inspectors by more than half a million a year.