Vending, Vending Machine, Coin-Op, Automatic Retailing, Schools, Foodservice, National Automatic Merchandising Association, Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act
WASHINGTON -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association is warning the vending industry of new attempts to centralize control at the federal level over "competitive" foods sold in schools. This authority now is exercised by the states.
NAMA reports that a bill to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to establish new "science-based" standards for food sold in competition with the federal lunch program in schools -- including items sold through vending machines -- has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) introduced HR 1324 (the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act), which was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
"If this bill becomes law it would require the secretary to issue proposed regulations covering all food sold outside the school meal program on campus at any time during the school day," NAMA explained.
This initiative coincides with hearings held by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, on reauthorization of funds for the school lunch program. In committee testimony, the Secretary of Agriculture expressed his belief that it is important to take steps to improve the nutritional quality of competitive foods sold in schools.
The vending association is urging its members to contact their U.S. representatives and ask them to oppose HR 1324, and to request that their senators oppose additional regulation of foods sold outside the school lunch program.
"Decisions about what foods should be sold in schools should be left up to state and local officials, who are in the best position to decide the needs of their students and children," NAMA emphasized. "And new federal rules are unnecessary because many states and local boards of education have already acted, and additional federal rules would undermine these decisions."
Moreover, food and beverages sold through vending machines, school stores and other channels in schools help raise funds for school activities such as sports and other programs. New federal restrictions would reduce the revenue generated locally for these programs.
It is important to emphasize that restrictions on the sale of competitive foods in school will not reduce obesity in children, NAMA pointed out. The youngsters simply will bring the products they want from home, or purchase them from nearby stores and restaurants off school campuses.
"The vending industry is already successfully regulating itself with its Fit Pick healthier vending initiative developed by NAMA under the Balanced for Life program," the association concluded. "This initiative has been recognized by school officials and government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control as a successful public-private partnership for improving health community wide."
Contact information for congressional representatives can be found on the Internet at house.gov. Senators can be located by visiting senate.gov (click on "Find Your Senator" in the box at the upper right corner of the page).
NAMA issued the warning in its latest Legislative Bulletin. Questions may be referred to Brian Allen, senior director and counsel for government affairs in the central area, at (312) 346-0370, firstname.lastname@example.org; Sandra T. Larson, senior director and counsel for government affairs in the western area, at (626) 229-0900, email@example.com; or Thomas E. McMahon, senior vice-president and chief counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. (703) 435-1210.