Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, June 1, 2003
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez
Phone: (512) 463-0127

Legislature passes bill to create Joint Interim Study on Public School Nutrition

Austin, TX--Today the Legislature took a huge step in combating childhood obesity by approving a bill by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. that would establish a joint interim committee to study nutrition and health in public schools.

"Passage of Senate Bill 474 is a bittersweet victory," said Sen. Lucio. "I am disappointed that legislation to restrict foods and beverages of no nutritional value in our schools was thwarted by those who should be foremost in supporting this endeavor. On the other hand, I look forward to meeting with all stakeholders on this issue with the goal of improving the nutritional quality and standards of public school foods and beverages."

The interim committee will look at all aspects of foods and beverages provided to children in our public schools--the national school food program, a la carte foods, competitive foods and vending machines with the goal of combating childhood obesity and its related diseases. We will also evaluate the benefits of universal breakfast and lunch program, as well as contracts on competitive foods and vending machines, revenues generated and accountability of these revenues.

"I am pleased that the Texas Legislature has agreed to conduct an interim study to address childhood obesity and school nutrition," said Rep. Jaime Capelo. "This study will bring much-needed awareness to our parents and public schools. The health of our children directly impacts the future of our State."

The members of the joint committee will include: three Senators appointed by the Lieutenant Governor; three Representatives appointed by the House Speaker; the Commissioners of Education, Health and Agriculture; and a physician, dietitian, food service director, parent, school board member and superintendent or principal, appointed by the Governor.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs said, "It is clear that we have a health crisis in Texas concerning children's obesity. SB 474 proposes to evaluate some of the root causes of this crisis. I commend Senator Lucio & Representative Capelo for their leadership on this issue of importance to all Texans young and old. The farming and ranching community will partner with them in this important effort."

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