New York Needs to Join Other States in Passing School Nutrition Legislation

June 2, 2005

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, 90th A.D., is calling on the New York State Legislature to join other neighboring states and set new standards in our public schools to eliminate junk food. Galef has introduced a bill (A.5882/S.4940) which calls for a ban of non-nutritious foods, such as candy, in vending machines and on school property during school hours.

The bill also calls for schools to stock vending machines with foods that promote student health and well-being, such as fruits, salads, water, milk and juice. "It is crucial that the food available to students in schools is healthful and nutritious," said Galef. Last year, Assemblywoman Galef introduced similar legislation passed the Assembly, but did not pass the Senate.

With the rising rates of child obesity in New York up to 20% of our student population, and with the rise of affiliated diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, nutrition standards in public schools are vital. Vending machines at schools throughout the state contain snack and junk food high in sugar and sodium instead of healthful snacks that will enhance a student’s well-being. Rising obesity rates affect the rising costs of medical services. By creating standards of nutrition in schools, the rate of obesity as well as affiliated diseases and medical costs would decline.

New Jersey and Connecticut already have legislation that establishes nutrition standards in public schools by providing foods low in sugar and salt. Some schools in Connecticut already have banned candy and soda from vending machines and have replaced those with healthier choices, such as fruits and salads. The Connecticut Legislature recently passed a bill calling for these new standards, as well as at least 20 minutes of recess per day through the fifth grade. It is now on the desk of Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell. New Jersey’s legislation has passed the Assembly and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. Other states that have considered nutrition standards in schools are California and Arizona.

"The skills learned in choosing healthful choices will stay with a student throughout their lifetime," Galef said. "By teaching these students what is healthful and setting an example for them, they will continue to make these choices and teach others how to eat well. This is the first step to lowering child obesity and related disease."

"New York should be a leader in promoting healthy students and healthful choices in schools," Galef said. "Providing healthful choices is essential in making positive steps toward healthy lives. New York should set an example for other state legislatures."