Guest Blog: First-Time NAMA Public Policy Experience Unlocked

Oct. 16, 2014

It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind of work life, but I was given the opportunity to step out of that world for a few days and be a part of an eye-opening experience at NAMA’s Public Policy Conference.  Attending the Public Policy Conference was a total immersion for me to not only get more involved in the industry, but also to be aware of the issues our industry faces today, tomorrow and years from now. These very issues can and will affect everyone’s business in some way or another so the best takeaway I can instantly say is: GET INVOLVED.  We need to - as industry leaders, experts and emerging leaders - get involved in the issues we face. 

It surprised me when we started our lobbying days and each congressman’s office was really unfamiliar with the issues that our industry is encountering. Many of them did not even know about the micro market concept, so it certainly was a day of learning from each other and what was important to us as an industry and why we needed their support. Regardless of your company, you should all be actively involved with educating your local legislators about these issues and how they can and will impact you:

  1. U.S. Mint Metallic Content of Coins: There is a pending recommendation on changing the metallic content of our change.  The altering of the coin will affect each and every vending operator that has machines out there accepting change today!  This is important to be at the forefront of joining the coalition “Don’t Change our Change”!  This very change could impact 13 million units in the field today, so what does that mean for your business?
  2. Calorie Disclosure: There is new language that is being presented in front of the U.S. House about the disclosure of front-of-package calorie disclosure in vending machines.  Our industry is taking a proactive approach in saying that we are supporting the actions of providing nutritional information on the front of the package, but that we just ask for flexibility in adhering to these requests that take time to implement on all levels from the manufacturer to the operator.
  3. Increased Choices & Nutrition: It is important for industry leaders to share how operators, suppliers and manufacturers are supporting the initiatives to providing healthier snacks in schools through Fit Pick identified options and the positive effects of micro markets in providing options and a variety of healthier selections directly to the consumer.

If these are the conversations today with legislators, we must ensure that we are also having the conversations with them now about what is on the horizon.  Micro markets are my background and of course I am interested in learning how their emergence in the industry is affected by future regulations.  One of my key responsibilities on our lobbing day was to help to start the dialogue, educate and engage the legislators on what a micro market is, its positive impact in our industry for the consumer and the vending operator, as well as sharing that this may be something that they will become more familiar with in the future.  Thus, we ask for their support now in the micro market concept and in starting that dialogue today.  

My final thoughts as I ended my visit to D.C. was that this opportunity helped in providing education on the key initiatives in our industry, helped me to network with representatives, legislators and other industry leaders, but most importantly it showed that our Emerging Leaders are the future of this industry and the more we are involved today, the more we can help to shape the direction that our industry goes.  So my final comment is to all of you Emerging Leaders, get involved in your local associations, understand the issues and engage in a dialogue today, because each of you can help make a big impression on the future of our industry.