Galef’s Bill to Remove Junk Food from School Vending Machines Passes Education Committee Next Step: Assembly Floor

April 6, 2004
A bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (90th AD) and Senator Mary Lou Rath (61st SD) (A.6563/S.4556), requiring the removal of non-nutritious beverages and foods from New York State school vending machines during school hours, has passed the Assembly Education Committee on April 1 and will be brought to the floor of the Assembly.

This legislation would encourage schools to replace unhealthy items like soda and candy with healthier choices like dairy products, bottled water, and fruit juice. "This is one step forward in our crucial and continuing effort to change our children’s diets and improve their chances for longer, healthier lives," Assemblywoman Galef stated.

More than 20 percent of New York State’s children are overweight, and childhood obesity can lead to serious health problems – not only far in the future, but immediately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes by high school graduation if current trends in sugar consumption are allowed to continue. Overweight children also suffer from high blood pressure, cardiovascular disorders, and low self-esteem.

Soda has been shown to lead to calcium deficiencies, and calcium is crucial for growing children. Research has shown that as children’s soda consumption increases, their consumption of milk decreases significantly. This is no small problem considering that 65% of girls and 74% of boys in the United States consume soda daily.

Considering the health and economic costs of obesity, Assemblywoman Galef states that "It is short-sighted for our society and our schools not to take children’s health issues more seriously. When a school has vending machines selling soda and unhealthy foods, that sends the wrong message to children. Instead, schools should be a place where children learn healthy eating habits that they’ll carry with them into adulthood."

Many schools worry about the loss of revenue from vending machines, but school districts that have already replaced the sodas and candy in their machines with healthy beverages and snacks find them still profitable.

Westchester County’s Lakeland Central School District, for example, now sells salads, fresh fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, milk, and juices in its vending machines, and the district has actually increased its profits from vending.

ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING MEMORANDA IN SUPPORT OF A.6563

Medical Society of the State of New York
American Academy of Pediatrics, District II, New York State
Dr. Joshua Lipsman, Commissioner, Westchester County Department of Health
American Heart Association
American Cancer Society
New York State School Food Service Association
New York State United Teachers
Cornell Cooperative Extension
New York State Dietetic Association
WIC Association of New York State, Inc.