Improving school food choices in vending machines

March 12, 2003

Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles
432 John A. Cherberg Building
P.O. Box 40436
Olympia, WA 98504-0436

Dear Senator Kohl-Welles,

I’m writing to thank you for your good efforts to improve school food choices, in particular your proposed bill to replace junk foods from vending machines. We’re disappointed your Senate bill #5436 didn’t pass the initial round, but we want to offer our support if you plan to introduce this matter again.

We agree that we must help our youth make good dietary choices to ensure they’re ready to learn. We applaud you for making good common sense recommendations.

Vending machine companies such as Coca Cola, for example, could easily swap out soft drinks with Odwalla juices and Dasani water, keep their current contracts, protect the revenue stream to strapped schools, and still provide a consistent message at school on nutrition — from the health class to the cafeteria. As the Superintendent of Public Instruction suggests, schools also could sell healthful products grown in Washington, such as fresh fruit and apple juice.

Fears of losing revenue from vending machines seem unfounded. San Diego’s experiment with replacing junk foods in their machines with healthful alternatives yielded impressive results. We understand their profits doubled in one month.

As a natural food retailer, owned by our 40,000 consumer-members, we would like to discuss what we might do to help support your vision. Perhaps we can help by connecting you with local farmers or with our primary wholesaler — one that has demonstrated support for consumer food issues over the years and has a national reach. Perhaps we can help support an awareness campaign with publicity, or in some other way.

Thank you for your leadership in exploring ways to support better nutritional choices in school. We’d be glad to help.

Sincerely,

Laurie Lombard
Director of Marketing

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