Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14: Bureaucracy In Healthy Eating Dollars Hard To Digest

By Sylvia Gurinsky

A few days ago, first lady Michelle Obama was in South Florida celebrating the second anniversary of her "Let's Move" initiative that promotes healthy eating and lifestyles.

But the way federal money meant for healthy lifestyles has been spent is giving plenty of people indigestion.

Miami New Times has published an article and a chart detailing how federal stimulus money intended for healthy programs has been spent:


From feds to county to cities, not enough has been spent on nuts and bolts - or nuts, fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods - and too much has been spent on planning and aspects that are very loosely defined as support systems.

Dollars were allocated to the Miami Police Department for training school crossing guards "to promote child physical activity by providing safe routes to and from school"; to Miami-Dade County's Parks and Recreation for accessibility to park land and street planning changes and to the city of North Miami for "Share the Road" signage, among others.

Too few dollars were allocated to farmers' markets and community gardens. New Times mentions the delays to some farmers markets.

Among those shut out entirely were Roots of the City in Overtown, which could have used the dollars to expand - and perhaps avoid the political whims of former Miami City Commissioner Richard Dunn, whose posturing caused the Roots garden to be closed for a while.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Miami-Dade Health Department needed better organization for the allocation of money. The first key to a healthy diet is changing eating habits - which includes making healthy foods more accessible. That should have come first.

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