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Bill to Set Standards for School Snacks Moves Forward

The V.I. Senate Health, Hospitals and Human Services Committee approved a bill Thursday setting limits on sugar and fat in snacks and drinks sold in the territory’s public schools.
Sen. Patrick Sprauve sponsored the bill, which would not apply to school breakfasts and lunches paid for with federal funds. Rules for those meals are set by the federal government.
Voting yea were Sprauve, Sens. Craig Barshinger, Louis Hill, Usie Richards and Shawn-Michael Malone. Sens. Neville James and Alvin Williams were absent.
In other business, the committee passed a resolution directing the V.I. Health Department to study whether or not to pursue purchasing a mobile van to bring dental services to schools and other locations.
Testifiers from the departments of Health and Human Services and those from the territory’s clinics all said a van would be a valuable tool. Yet, to varying degrees, they all also said attracting, retaining and paying more dentists and technicians was perhaps a more pressing concern, given financial constraints.
"We can’t run a dental van if we don’t have a dentist," said Wilbur Smith, who runs the St. Thomas East End Medical Center. "The issue is the recruitment and retention of those providers."
If permanent, salaried dentists and technicians are not hired, serving the population becomes more expensive because the clinics and Health Department will have to pay professionals in the private sector, he said.
Voting to send the resolution out of committee were: Barshinger, Hill, Richards, Malone, Sprauve and Williams. James was absent.
Both actions will now be forwarded on to the Rules and Judiciary Committee.

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