Galef and NYS Junior Leagues Aim to Help Children Snack Smarter

Coalition of leagues supports school vending machine nutrition bill
April 13, 2011
Albany – Today, one out of three American children and teenagers is overweight or obese; nearly triple the rate in the past 40 years. For children, this means an increased risk of a broad range of health problems that were not previously identified until adulthood, including diabetes, heart disease and asthma, as well as the numerous physical limitations and psychological effects as they develop. And while a state law exists that limits when children can access vending machines in schools, there are no measures in place to require schools to provide healthy options in vending machines.
“Childhood obesity affects children of all ages and backgrounds. Assembly bill A6900 is a small step that can be taken to help fight a larger problem,” said Denise Murphy McGraw, co-chair, Junior League New York State Public Affairs Committees (NYSPAC). “Children receive as much as 50% of their daily caloric intake at school and the Junior League is committed to ensuring that healthy options are available.”
NYSPAC, a coalition of 18 Junior Leagues from across NYS, is supporting A6900, introduced by State Assemblymember Sandy Galef and co-sponsored by New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle. The measure, if passed, would provide for the sale, availability and distribution of healthy foods and beverages on school grounds and sets forth requirements on portion sizes and nutritional value. Vending machines, which currently face no restrictions on contents within, would be included in this regulation.
The regulations in the bill are in line with those agreed upon voluntarily between the American Beverage Association, major snack food providers and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. NYSPAC, in conjunction with Assemblymember Sandy Galef, will formally announce its support of the bill at a press conference on April 12, 2011.
“This bill will help children make healthy choices. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle at a young age prepares our students to be healthy and active beyond the classroom walls,” said State Assemblymember Sandy Galef. “While opponents argue that schools will experience a decrease in revenue with the passage of this bill, studies have shown that schools with healthy eating options in vending machines actually realized an increase in vending machine revenues.”
"Childhood obesity and related ailments have reached epidemic proportions," Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said, "this legislation ensures that our school children are provided with nutritious choices during the school day."
Statewide, obesity-related health problems cost New York more than $7 billion each year, of which $302 million is spent on childhood obesity-related health problems alone. It is estimated that obesity contributes to over 112,000 deaths nationwide, many from conditions that are incurred as a result of being obese. This makes obesity-related deaths the second most preventable cause of death. Smoking is the first-most preventable cause.
Since 1980, the number of overweight children and adolescents has tripled. Many experts blame poor nutrition and lack of proper exercise as the main culprits and agree that children engaging in a healthy lifestyle decrease their risk for developing obesity as an adult.
On April 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM, NYSPAC and State Assemblymember Sandy Galef held a press conference to discuss the bill and answer questions.

About NYSPAC
The New York State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of New York (NYSPAC) is made up of 18 Junior Leagues and represents more than 8,000 women from across the State of New York. NYSPAC takes action on select state and national issues that support its projects, educates individual League memberships on issues selected for action by NYSPAC, facilitates communication among the member Junior Leagues of New York State in the area of public affairs, provides training in advocacy skills and strategies, and acts as the representative of the member Leagues at the state and national level. NYSPAC focuses on public policy impacting women and health as well as children and families. For more information, visit http://jl-nyspac.org/. For information on the Association of Junior Leagues International, visit their Web site.

About New York State Assemblymember Sandy Galef
Assemblymember Sandy Galef represents the 90th Assembly District in Westchester County, New York. She has been committed to public service as both a volunteer and as an elected official almost her entire life. Ms. Galef is a leading advocate for legislative reform in Albany as well as being deeply involved in matters pertaining to education, taxes, energy, consumer issues, health, and senior citizens, among other issues. She is presently chairing the Real Property Tax Committee and is serving as member of the Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committee; the Election Law Committee, the Governmental Operations Committee; and the Health Committee.

About New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle
Kenneth P. LaValle, (R-C-I, Port Jefferson) was first elected to the New York State Senate in 1976 and was appointed Chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education in 1979. Senator LaValle has helped shape higher education policy in New York State for more than 30 years where his work with education leaders at the State University of New York, City University of New York and independent colleges has earned him the respect of the academic community.

Senator LaValle's achievements in education and higher education are matched by a distinguished record in health care and he is most proud of his work in establishing a Burn Unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center. His legislation to protect and advance the rights of patients earned him special recognition from the Suffolk County Breast Health Partnership. St. Charles Hospice also paid tribute to his efforts in developing a program for terminally ill patients in nursing homes. His commitment to quality health care is continued in his efforts to create an east end hospital alliance, ensuring continued access to vital health services on eastern Long Island.