George Graham

For Kids. Farmers, too



When I think of the things some Republicans do and say these days, I cringe in horror. I am tempted to dismiss all Republicans as subhuman sadists or knuckle dragging neanderthals. And then I get an email from Adam Putnam.

He is a Republican born and bred. The scion of a rich citrus and cattle family, he was elected to the state Legislature right out of University of Florida and went on to become the youngest-ever member of Congress. Folks around here would likely have voted him back to Washington forever. But in 2010 – when people were eyeing him as a potential candidate for governor or even president – he surprised everybody and ran for state Commissioner of Agriculture.

Of course he was elected. And he is likely to be re-elected in November.

I think I know why. Adam Putnam may be a Republican but he sounds concerned for the welfare of rich and poor alike. Especially the kids.

His email began:

Hi George,

Did you know ensuring Florida’s students receive proper nutrition is one of my top priorities as the Commissioner of Agriculture?

No Commissioner, I did not know that. I thought all of you Republicans were in favor of limiting the school lunch program, cutting the food stamp budget and generally making life miserable for America’s struggling families.

Putnam’s email went on:

We know that without proper nutrition kids just can’t learn up to their potential in the classroom and that is why I’ve worked to direct more locally-grown fresh produce to our schools.

Well, I know “that without proper nutrition kids just can’t learn up to their potential in the classroom.” But I never realized you knew that, Commissioner. I thought you Republicans figured a little starvation would help to sharpen the students’ wits.

It’s heartening to realize you were thinking of ensuring proper nutrition for Florida’s kids and not just boosting sales for Florida’s land barons when you “worked to direct more locally-grown fresh produce to our schools.”

Whatever your motive or motives might be, I am very pleased to learn that:

Many Florida schools now offer locally-grown fruits and vegetables in their cafeterias. In some cases, students are eating produce picked from within miles of their classroom.

Of course I don’t know how much longer that will last if your Republican buddies retain control of Congress. Squeezing this kind of “welfare”  program is one of their priorities.

I don’t know if you still have connections in Washington, Commissioner. But if you do, you might want to mention that the school lunch program isn’t just a necessity for kids who might not get enough to eat at home. You might point out that it is also a pretty good way of sustaining demand for the stuff those rich farmers grow – the rich farmers who help to finance Republican candidates across America.

Click for more on Republicans and school lunches.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for