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Home   Membership   Expos   Publications   Knowledge Center   Education   Coffee Service   Gov. Affairs Jan. 27, 2012
 
 
 


Government announces stricter school nutrition guidelines
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The first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in more than 15 years means most offerings — including the always popular pizza — will come with less sodium, more whole grains and a wider selection of fruits and vegetables on the side. First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new guidelines during a visit with elementary students. Entire meals will have calorie caps for the first time and most trans fats will be banned. Sodium will gradually decrease over a 10 year period. Milk will have to be low in fat and flavored milks will have to be nonfat. The guidelines apply to lunches subsidized by the federal government. Some of the changes will take place as soon as this September; others will be phased in over time. The 2010 law will extend, for the first time, nutrition standards to other foods sold in schools that aren't subsidized by the federal government. That includes "a la carte" foods on the lunch line and snacks in vending machines. For more information, contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


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US obesity rates leveled off; city and state funds should be spent on building parks and bike paths
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U.S. beverage and restaurant groups are objecting to advertising campaigns that links their products to disease, the Financial Times reports. In an effort to combat its nearly 23 percent obesity rate, New York City's health department has launched a $500,000 campaign encouraging the city's residents to eat and drink less. "These drinks are important contributors to the obesity problem," said Thomas Farley, New York health commissioner. "The health consequences are severe. The simplest message is to switch out these sugary drinks and switch to another." Similar campaigns have been launched in Chicago and Seattle, as well as Georgia and Hawaii. The American Beverage Association released a statement saying that, "It's absurd to say that drinking a soda will cause these really extreme health conditions. Our companies are out there providing real help for consumers with more low- and no-calorie beverages." The ABA said cities and states would better serve their residents by using the campaign funds to build parks and bike paths. The National Restaurant Association said the goals of the ads are noble but that member companies have already been working to provide healthier offerings. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control released a study that reveals obesity rates in the U.S. have leveled off in the past 12 years. However, they remain high, with more than one-third of adults and almost 17 percent of children obese. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


Penn State sudy finds that school vending machines do not lead to weight gain
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A new study from two researchers at Penn State, published this month in Sociology of Education, argues that school vending machines don't actually lead to weight gain among adolescents. The study's authors, Jennifer Van Hook and Claire E. Altman, have said that they had expected to find a link between the presence of vending machines and weight gain, but after a systematic review of health data on thousands of middle school students from across the country, they found that students at schools with access to "competitive foods" — those sold above and beyond normal meals, as in vending machines and snack bars — gained no more weight than those at schools without competitive foods. For more information, contact Mary Lou Monaghan at mmonaghan@vending.org.



Arizona: Legislation would allow public schools to opt out of federal school lunch program
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Legislation has been introduced in Arizona that would let public schools opt out of the federal program to offer free and reduced-price lunches for needy students. Sen. Rich Crandall, the bill sponsor, said the state should not be imposing these mandates on public schools. He said the decision whether to participate in the National School Lunch Program — and deal with the various restrictions — is best left to local school officials. Crandall said his concern is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, is crafting new regulations that "could be burdensome." In response to critics of the bill, Sen. Crandall has defended his position by stating that he wanted to give local schools as much control as possible. For more information, contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


California: Governor releases 2012-13 state budget
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Gov. Jerry Brown released his 2012-13 budget proposal which claims success in improving the state's fiscal outlook. Last year, the state faced an immediate $26.6 billion shortfall and future estimated annual budget gaps of $20 billion. This year, the state faces only a $9.2 billion budget problem and future annual budget gaps of $5 billion or less. The governor claims that the 2011 budget made substantial progress in stabilizing California's finances and shrinking the ongoing deficit. Overall, the governor's budget proposes $4.2 billion in cuts and $6 billion in revenues to balance the budget and build a reserve of $1.1 billion. Over $2 billion of the cuts are in health and human services with $1.5 billion affecting education and childcare. A majority of the expected revenues ($4.6 billion) comes from the governor's temporary tax initiative to go before the voters in Nov. 2012. The ballot measure proposes an income tax increase of up to 2 percent on high-income earners for five years and a temporary one-half cent sales tax increase. Finally, the budget specifies $4.5 billion in cuts, if the ballot measure is not approved. These include cuts to schools and community colleges, universities, courts and public safety officers. For more information, contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


Illinois: Chicago City Council authorizes grant to aid small businesses
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The Chicago City Council's Economic, Capital and Technology Development Committee approved an ordinance that will aim to assist the success of city small businesses. In the measure spearheaded by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the city would grant $1 million to nonprofit micro lender ACCION Chicago and other nonprofits to provide loans to small businesses that would otherwise have limited access to traditional credit sources. The initiative is projected to create $10 million in taxable income for the city, including $4 million in new annual employment. For additional information, contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


Indiana: House Democrats end walkout
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Indiana House Democrats returned to the chamber recently, ending a walkout that had disrupted legislative business since Jan. 4. They had left the chamber to halt action on "right to work" legislation that Gov. Mitch Daniels and other Republicans had made a top session priority. The Democrats successfully blocked this issue last session with a lengthier walkout. The House had scheduled a vote on a bill that would bar unions from collecting dues from non-union workers at private companies, but the House Minority Leader canceled the vote pending further hearings. For additional information, contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


Kansas: Governor proposes tax overhaul
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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed an overhaul of the state tax code that would cut income taxes for about 1.6 million residents, while also eliminating nearly two dozen tax deductions, such as the one for home mortgage interest. The governor also wants to develop a new school funding system, fix the public pension system and reign in the cost of Medicaid. For additional information, contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


Minnesota: Governor proposal aims to create jobs
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Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently unveiled a proposal that could create tens of thousands of jobs for the state. The plan includes a $35 million proposal to grant $3,000-per-employee tax breaks to companies that hire workers who are currently unemployed, as well as recent college graduates and military veterans. In addition, businesses that make any new hires would receive a $1,500-per-hire tax credit. The biggest element of the proposal is a $775 million bonding package aimed at funding job-creating infrastructure projects. The governor has also indicated that the funding in this portion of the package would support job training and re-training programs. For additional information, contact Kim Radulski at kradulski@vending.org.


New Jersey: Bill would prohibit tobacco sales through vending machines
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Assembly Bill 1111 has been introduced which would prohibit the sale of tobacco products in vending machines and establish requirements for retail sales of tobacco. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


New Jersey: Wineries could sell product through vending machines
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New Jersey Assembly Bill 942 has been introduced which would permit New Jersey wineries to sell their products by the bottle in vending machines. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


New York: Bill would limit vending machines dispensing tobacco
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NY S 6198 has been introduced, which would prohibit the operation of a vending machine which dispenses tobacco products unless the machine is located more than three hundred and fifty feet from a building occupied exclusively as a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


Virginia: Bill would establish 'pump toll'
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Virginia Assembly House Bill 802 would establish the first pump toll in the country by starting every motor fuel purchase at 50 cents, with the fee going to the state fuels tax fund, plus additional taxes on wholesale gas and diesel. It is estimated the fees would total approximately $600 million per year. The bill would also add an additional 50 cent tax for every sale over 35 gallons, add a new tax of $1 for every 12 gallons of wholesale gasoline sold, and add another new tax of $1 for every 60 gallons of wholesale diesel sold. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


West Virginia: Bill would place tax on plastic bags and bottle deposit fees
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Legislation introduced in West Virginia proposes a statewide 5-cent plastic bag tax along with a 5-cent bottle deposit bill. The plastic bag tax, HB 2136, would charge grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores 5 cents for every plastic shopping bag given to customers. The bill says the tax may not be passed onto the customer. The bottle bill, HB 2814, extends to all beverages sold in plastic and aluminum containers, excluding dairy products and other drinks with nutritional value. The bill is aimed at getting the state's recycling rate at 50 percent, according to the proposal. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.

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