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Lawmakers may demand healthier menu in state buildings

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 16, 2011 at 11:59 am with 17 Comments »
February 16, 2011 1:23 pm
Some of the fare at the Dome Deli.

In the Legislative Building’s Dome Deli, lawmakers, lobbyists and state employees can grab a piece of fruit or a salad. But for long days and late nights, some of them are more likely to go straight to the cafeteria’s other choices: Cheetos, Butterfingers, Coca-Cola or Full Throttle energy drinks.

Some of those items could disappear from the shelves of state facilities under House Bill 1801.

With more than 25 percent of the state’s adults now obese, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, a Tacoma public health administrator, wants state buildings to stock healthier food. Schools have made progress, and food bought for employees and people housed in state institutions needs to catch up, she says.

Soda pop and other sugary drinks, for example, could amount to no more than one-fifth of all beverages sold by vendors or vending machines under rules the bill would phase in.

“The state should be actually be purchasing food that has a nutritional value,” Jinkins said. “Soda pop has no nutritional value whatsoever. None. What’s the purpose of doing that, or serving that?”

Other standards under the bill:

  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products only.
  • Lean meats with no more than 10 percent fat — and no skin on the poultry.
  • Priority given to Washington-caught fish.
  • Limited fried foods and added sugars.
  • Smaller portion sizes.
  • No more than 200 calories per serving in snacks, with no trans fats and no more than 10 percent saturated fats.

Some state vendors complained during a hearing this week they would lose money because fewer people would buy their food. The Department of Services for the Blind helps legally-blind adults run food businesses in state buildings and other government buildings.

Leave a comment Comments → 17
  1. jimkingjr says:

    Just what we needed- another nanny in Olympia.

  2. chris3dog says:

    So…… The cheatos in Olympia want to ban Cheetos? Am I missing something here?

  3. duckfan4ever says:

    Amazing. With all of the problems this state is facing, this freshman state representative is determined to leave her mark as another “Nanny State” moron.

  4. goldengiven says:

    I don’t know what you folks are talking about. This is the state deciding what the state will be purchasing for its own vending machines.

    If there were a meaningful decline in profit for the state, and you believed it offset whatever value you think having healthier food available has, that would be a meaningful complaint. But even if it’s stocked by terrible food, it’s still the state stocking that food. No extra level of state involvement here. Be careful about when you cry wolf…

  5. scott0962 says:

    When did the inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” get replaced with “Big Brother knows what’s best for you so shut up and do what you’re told”? It comes as no surprise that this proposal comes from someone with a background in the public health field, where the concept of individual liberty is never allowed to interfere with the greater goal of forcing people to do what’s “best” for them.

    Has anyone actually sat down and determined what commercially prepared products could be sold in vending machines under this new nanny state law–or whether people would buy the healhier items or just avoid them by bringing their own tasty and less than healthy snacks from home–or worse yet, start taking breaks from doing the public’s work in order to go out and get a decent bite to eat? Would there be enough of a market in the State’s machines to make it worthwhile for a company to package food that would meet the bill’s standards–or would we have to pay someone to specially make snacks just to keep the legislature’s vending machines stocked? Is there a rider to the bill to ban delivery of burgers, pizzas, pastas, and other less than optimally healthy food to hungry people stuck working in state buildings?

  6. dirtydan54 says:

    Who are these people and who entitled them with the authority to make our personal decisions?

  7. jetalmanac says:

    What is in vending machines should be the least of our worries… Shame!!!

  8. Why shouldn’t the state be able to decide what it will sell in vending machines in State buildings?
    Have you looked at the fitness of your legislators? The state will not control what they being to work to eat, only what they are able to purchase from statye=sponsored vending machines. Goldengiven is correct; YOUR rights are not being curtailed, only a small area of impulse choices. This is a tempest in a teapot.

  9. Why shouldn’t the state be able to decide what it will sell in vending machines in State buildings?
    Have you looked at the fitness of your legislators? The state will not control what they being to work to eat, only what they are able to purchase from state-sponsored vending machines. Goldengiven is correct; YOUR rights are not being curtailed, only a small area of impulse choices. This is a tempest in a teapot.

  10. Paavo_Nurmi says:


    I don’t know what you folks are talking about. This is the state deciding what the state will be purchasing for its own vending machines.

    If there were a meaningful decline in profit for the state, and you believed it offset whatever value you think having healthier food available has, that would be a meaningful complaint. But even if it’s stocked by terrible food, it’s still the state stocking that food. No extra level of state involvement here. Be careful about when you cry wolf

    That is not how it works, the state doesn’t own or stock the vending machines. It’s contracted out to a vending company ( Evergreen Vending, and Coke ) who fills and services the machines. They must pay a 20% commision on the gross sales to the state. That money goes to the Services for the Blind. “Healthy” options do not sell as well as “normal” vending “food”, so yes the state will loose money in the end.

  11. Paavo_Nurmi says:

    Not sure why it italics my whole post and not just the quote, but this was my part:

    That is not how it works, the state doesn’t own or stock the vending machines. It’s contracted out to a vending company ( Evergreen Vending, and Coke ) who fills and services the machines. They must pay a 20% commision on the gross sales to the state. That money goes to the Services for the Blind. “Healthy” options do not sell as well as “normal” vending “food”, so yes the state will loose money in the end.

  12. Take a close look at the picture. Anybody who argues that state workers are underpaid should now explain how those same poor workers are able to afford to pay $1.00 for a tiny little bag of Cheetos.

  13. Oh, so it’s okay that people are slowly killing themselves eating total crap because the blind people get a cut of the profit?

  14. Paavo_Nurmi says:

    ronniew,

    20 cents of that dollar goes back to the state, the vending company only gets to keep 80 cents.
    That is why vending prices are so high at the airport, it’s the commision. Same with the Puyallup fair, food vendors pay a 50% commision on their gross sales.

  15. Paavo_Nurmi says:

    I left the industry after 20 + years, so I really don’t care to be honest.
    I do know if sale go down and the blind services commision is any less than the same period a year prior, they are on the phone with you wanting an answer.

  16. goldengiven says:

    Paavo_Nurmi,

    My phrasing wasn’t great, but that doesn’t make a difference to my overall point, does it?

    You’re right that the state doesn’t own the vending machines. But they’re on state property. Nothing is being forced on the vending company, or anyone. The state is requesting a change to healthier food. If the vending company doesn’t want to make that change, they’ll stop doing business together. That’s just how it would work with a private corporation. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    There is a serious discussion to be had here about revenue loss. It’s just that crying “nanny state” makes no sense. No one would say a private company has a responsibility to provide Doritos lest it be a “nanny,” and the same goes for the state.

  17. MedicineMan says:

    We have a $5B deficit upcoming and the legislature is worried about what goes in vending machines. No wonder we have deficits economically–we have intellectual deficits in our legislators.

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