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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 2, February 2010, Posted On: 1/30/2010

Virginia Assn. Rallies Opposition To Vague School Nutrition Rule Proposals

Tim Sanford
Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association, VAMA, vending machine, vending, vending operator, Jeff Smith, Virginia Board of Education, food service, automatic retailing,

RICHMOND, VA -- The Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association reports that its legislative consultant, Jeff Smith, has called attention to four measures introduced in the State Legislature. Among other things, these initiatives would require the Board of Education to issue regulations establishing nutritional guidelines for all "competitive foods" sold in schools during regular hours.

The proposals, as written, lack precision in specifying responsibilities, criteria and authority, VAMA noted. "Will the BOE have regulatory authority and/or penal authority?" the association wonders.

Moreover, "There potentially could be several standards put in place for similar product, creating administrative problems for industry compliance," VAMA warned. For example, standards have been drafted by the American Beverage Association, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, among many others.

Schools ordered to develop and implement their own plans for compliance would receive little guidance in determining how to do it, the association pointed out. The result might be general confusion, causing harm to the vending industry without conferring any benefits on the students or the schools.

The proposals in question include SB414 (Sen. Vogel) and SB210 (Sen. Barker) in the Senate, and in the House of Delegates, HBs 1067 and 1010 (Del. Athey).

"This pending legislation needs the industry's immediate attention and action," VAMA emphasized. "All industry professionals, VAMA members and nonmembers, must join together to contact their elected representatives to voice their opposition." The association also is seeking input from operator members on the respective profit margins of overtly "nutritional" items in comparison with conventional candy and snack items. They're invited to contact VAMA's Lee Campbell by emailing info@virginiavend.org, or calling (919) 459-6087.

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