BRONX, NY -- CC Vending has developed a computerized system that will allow parents of students in schools across New York City to have the final say in what drinks their children purchase.
The Drink Accountability Program (DAP) allows a parent to create an online account for a child, funded with a debit or credit card, and specify what drinks the child can buy and how often. The parent can choose to allow his or her child to purchase one "pre-elected" drink every day, every other day, once a week, or at whatever interval he or she determines to be the best choice. Once a profile is enabled in the DAP, a student can enter a PIN at a vending machine to retrieve the permitted drink.
CC Vending said it will install its DAP free of charge in all 1,400-plus schools in the New York City school system, pending approval from the New York Department of Education. The vending operation will also provide information and training for school personnel who can inform parents through written materials, school assemblies or parent-teacher meetings.
"I know that Mayor Bloomberg is trying to change adults' habits by limiting the size of drinks," said CC president Mike Cascione. "But to change a nation, the change must start with the kids."
In 2009, CC Vending replaced Snapple as the exclusive beverage vending provider for New York City's public schools. At the same time, Answer Vending (Bellerose, NY) became the sole snack vendor in city schools. Both vending companies were required to adhere to stringent new nutritional guidelines. | SEE STORY
CC Vending removed all the sugary drinks from New York City public school vending machines in compliance with the new rules, leaving only water and flavored water.
The idea was that if no other options were offered, kids would only drink healthy beverages, CC Vending explained. But the move has only stopped them from purchasing sugar-sweetened soft drinks at vending machines, and not from buying them at nearby stores or bringing them from home.
CC's Cascione sees widening the drink menu to include proposed options like sports drinks and making parents accountable for their kid's choices as a better approach. "Parents want to be friends with their kids," he stressed. "It's time for them to step up and say 'no' to what their children want, and begin to dictate what they need. The program will do this."
While restricting surgery drinks and changing children's diets are a major part of the fight to end obesity, activity is a necessary component, Cascione emphasized. He pointed out that vending machines are a source of income to fund schools' extracurricular activities, with a portion of the proceeds from each drink purchased going directly back to each school. Additionally, CC Vending donates several million dollars each year as a sponsor of CHAMPS (Cooperative, Healthy, Active, Motivated, and Positive Students) and PSAL (Public School Athletic Leagues) in city schools.
Without these sponsorships, the operator observed, many of the programs would not be feasible, and many children have no other form of organized sports in which to participate.
"I know that Mayor Bloomberg is trying to change adult's habits by limiting the size of drinks, where drinks are sold throughout the city, but to change a nation, the change must start with the kids, not with 60-year-olds who have a lifetime of habits," said Cascione. "It's just like with smoking: change the kids and they will help change their parents. It's time to make parents accountable for their kids' choices. DAP will do just that."