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School Vending Machines Will Be Regulated Under New Bill

Thanks to a bill signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday, junk food might soon be a thing of the past in Massachusetts school vending machines.

The law gives state health officials regulatory authority over vending machine foods and drinks, and requires schools to sell non-fried vegetable or fresh fruit snacks wherever vending machine food is sold. Currently, foods served at schools in vending machines, a la carte lines and stores are not regulated by federal standards on school meals.

The Massachusetts state sandwich, the Fluffernutter, will still be allowed in schools under the new law. (Lban/Flickr)
The Massachusetts state sandwich, the Fluffernutter, will still be allowed in schools under the new law. (Lban/Flickr)

The new law also encourages schools to buy more food from Massachusetts farmers and establishes a commission to address childhood obesity.

An earlier version of this bill failed in 2006, after lawmakers attached an amendment that would have banned New England's traditional fluffernutter sandwich in schools.

The bill signed by the governor Friday did not include the fluffernutter ban.

"I am proud to be here to congratulate all of the parents who have been looking for a way to partner differently with the schools to assure that there are healthy options in the cafeterias at schools," Patrick said.

Health advocates, like Valerie Basset of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, are calling the bill a victory for the state's children.

"This law puts healthier choices in all of the Massachusetts public schools," said Valerie Basset of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, "which is a critical step to making sure children are at a healthy weight and get a fair chance at a long and healthy life."

The law is intended to address childhood obesity. One in four Bay State teens are currently overweight, a rate slightly higher than the national average.

Related:

This program aired on July 30, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Adam Ragusea Reporter/Associate Producer
Adam Ragusea was formerly a reporter and producer for WBUR.

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