Lawmakers take step to regulate school vending machines |

Lawmakers take step to regulate school vending machines

DENVER – Becky Creighton said she was surprised when school volunteers rolled a cart filled with junk food through her son’s elementary school shortly after lunch.”It was filled with cookies the size of saucers, two for 25 cents. They had a sign that says `Be healthy,’ but nothing on the cart is healthy,” she told state lawmakers on Thursday.Lawmakers expressed concern that a voluntary program controlling the amount of junk food available to students isn’t working and gave initial approval to a measure (House Bill 1056) that would require schools to make sure half of all vending machine items are nutritious.The measure now goes to the full House for debate.Erin Bertoli of the American Heart Association told legislators that 16 percent of the children in public schools are at risk because they are obese, and warned it could have severe health consequences.”We’re raising the first generation that may not outlive their parents,” she said.Witnesses told legislators that many schools rely on vending machine revenue to pay for athletics and other programs, and many children prefer junk food.Rep. Debbie Benefield, D-Arvada, said in some cases, vendors refused to refill vending machines with nutritious snacks after the healthy food sold out.School officials told legislators they sent schools model rules that could be adopted to regulate vendors. They said major school districts balked at the voluntary program, fearing lost revenues.Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, who voted against the bill, said the state has no business telling local school districts what to do.”This is a mandate to local school boards, which would be a serious abrogation of local control,” White said.If approved, schools would have until 2008 to comply with the new law.

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