Healthy Living Matters Makes Connections in the Capitol

Healthy Living Matters Makes Connections in the Capitol
Posted on 02/17/2015

On Friday, February 6th, 2015 the Healthy Living Matters (HLM) team made its first visit to the Texas Legislature since the initial briefing on our early findings relating to childhood obesity in Harris County back in 2013. This time, we added our Community Action Plan and our specific legislative recommendations to the findings. We conducted several small meetings with key legislative staff and a meeting with the Texas Department of Agriculture, including the newly elected Commissioner Sid Miller; and topped off our day by co-hosting a legislative briefing with State Rep. Alma Allen. We had over 50 people attend the event where our Chair, Dr. Ann Smith Barnes spoke passionately about how policy impacts nutrition, physical activity and overall health. Chris Browne, HLM Vice-Chair, added the perspective on how policy related to the built environment impacts outdoor recreation and physical activity. Kelly Reed-Hirsch spoke about the resources of the Texas School Health Advisory Committee (TSHAC) to schools and legislators, and Tim Schauer discussed the draft legislation that State Rep. Alma Allen was developing with our support. Specifically, we hope to have at least four bills relating to childhood obesity filed and moving through the process in 2015:

  • Strategic planning directives for state agencies relating to hunger, nutrition and childhood obesity (Texas Dept. of Agriculture, Texas Education Agency and the Health and Human Services Commission)
  •  Education related items:
    •    Increase junior high PE requirements from 4 semesters to 6 semesters
    •    Increase high school PE requirements from 1 to 1.5 semesters
    •    Restore high school .5 semester health class requirement
    •    Direct Texas Education Agency to develop age-appropriate recess policy and outdoor play guidelines
  • Development of state guidelines for wellness programs for administrators, teachers and child care providers, including developing incentives and recognition programs for Healthy Schools and Healthy Childcare
  • Pilot Program for “Double Dollars” at Farmers Market using SNAP and/or WIC benefits.