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Let consumers decide what snacks to buy

My View • Commission for the Blind strives to provide healthy choices for all
by: Christopher Onstott Brandon Newell purchases a Dave's Killer Bread sandwich from the new vending machine at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission headquarters, which offers its employees healthier food and snack options.

Concerning Steve Law's story, 'Battle for healthy snacks' (May 26), I would like to provide you with the licensed blind vendors' perspective concerning healthy choices and the Business Enterprise Consumer Committee's commitment to working as willing partners in addressing this concern.

I truly wish our (Oregon Commission for the Blind's Business Enterprise Program) Director Walt Reyes and our Administrator Linda Mock would have shared a full picture of this issue. The comments made and suggestions contained within your article stating that blind vendors were stonewalling or blocking efforts are not correct.

Blind vendors in Oregon have, do and will continue to work with the Oregon Commission for the Blind and other building officials that we contract with for our services. Anyone who suggests otherwise is not telling you the whole story.

For the record, we embrace healthy eating and we work closely with the groups and organizations listed below. Resources, training and support that these organizations provide are invaluable to keeping us current and progressive. There are registered dietitians available to us for menu planning, product mix and nutritional guidelines:

• National Automated Merchandising Association

• North County Vending Services

• Randolph Sheppard Vendors of America

• National Association of Blind Managers of America

Giving our customers what they want to purchase, and will purchase, while still providing a healthy mix of products is the key.

For your information, the rub with former Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office was this: There were people pushing this mandate who didn't do a good job of researching what was available through distribution channels, or what was practical. In my opinion, it was not well thought-out. The former governor himself shared his concerns.

The bottom line: state employees want choices. The labor unions and our customers demand what they will purchase and consume. Please be assured the licensed blind vendors across the land are working on this issue, both nationally and locally.

I'll share with you a story I witnessed firsthand. Several months back, the committee of blind vendors was leaving a work session concerning healthy eating and governmental mandates. Committee members were sharing their concerns about eliminating choices from customers per their request.

What was so comical is this: On our way out the door, an employee of the Oregon Commission for the Blind was rounding the corner and literally hit us in the face with the two plates of chocolate cake she was taking to a birthday gathering.

I know some people like (Administrator) Mock only eat carrots at work and do not patronize the vending machines. However, I believe she might have eaten some chocolate cake that day. (Smile.)

I felt this was a true commitment to state employees eating what they want to eat.They will bring snacks from home or go next door to the fast-food joints.

Promoting and or educating people is super, but mandating what should be available is not constructive to anyone.

Randy Hauth of North Portland is chairman of the Oregon Commission for the Blind's Business Enterprise Consumer Committee.