Posted By Anne on March 9, 2010
During the past several years, the Education Committee has heard much testimony on what is driving the rising cost in education. Some of those drivers include declining student enrollment, duplication of services, transportation, special education services, health care, to name a few. Student enrollment will continue to decline and it will be 12-15 years before Vermont ‘s enrollment will be back to where we are even now! Consolidation of districts or supervisory unions has long been discussed, but has been a bone of contention due to many towns feeling that “local control” may be lost.
However, now is the time to re-think the issue. There are several bills that are being considered regarding consolidation– one that has started in the Senate and one in the House. The Senate bill (S.252) proposes to reduce the number of supervisory unions from the current 60 to no more than 16, similar to the current technical center districts.
The centralized authority would include one board based on at-large representation and one superintendent. All purchasing, special educa- tion, transportation, negotiations, school choice, technical center, preschool affiliation, and other transitional issues would be fully implemented by July 1, 2014. If the bill passes, the commissioner of education would have to finalize the new districts by July 1, 2012, and they would go into effect.
The House Education Committee is working on a proposal (no bill number yet) that would provide incentives for neighboring districts to voluntarily merge and form a unified supervisory district (USD). USDs must be a PreK-12 district of a minimum of 1250 students and the merging districts must be contiguous, and is a voluntary action; among other pre-requisites. Items being discussed as incentives are including multi-year budgets, a common level of appraisal, a combined property tax rate (with a 4 year transition plan). The incentives will go away after 2018. The new Unified Supervisory District would have a single governing board with representatives from each of the merging districts. Collective bargaining, transportation, delivery of business and special education services (the USD will be the LEA), curriculum, technical education, school choice within the USD, sharing of resources and teachers at schools within the USD will be decided at the USD level. What happens to those districts that do not choose to consolidate remains to be decided.
Last fall, a commission that studied teachers’ retirement and health insurance benefits came up with recommendations for legislation. H. 764 –which passed the House last week – has no changes for those who are retired or have 5 years to retirement, but changes normal retirement eligibility for those with less than 25 years of service or who are less than 57 years old. The new eligibility follows the “rule of 90” suggesting a retirement age of 65 years or 30 years of service. Early retirement stays at age 55 but with a reduction. The average final compensation (AFC) maximum will be raised to 60% upon completion of 20 years of service. For those ages 57 or greater or with 25 or more years of service, the maximum benefit is increased to 53.34% of AFC for years of service after July 1, 2010. The contribution rate for all teachers increases to 5%.
Retiree health care premium subsidies for new hires and those with less than 10 years of service will be based on a tiered schedule based on years of service with spousal coverage at 80% after 25 years. Current teachers with more than 10 years of service maintain 80% single coverage and those with 25 years service will also have 80% spousal coverage. There is a schedule, based on years of service, for spousal coverage at 80% that can be found on the state treasurer’s website.
Changing the Date of the Primary Election
Vermont received notice this fall that the state is not in compliance with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. Beginning with the November 2, 2010 general election, states must send absentee ballots to overseas voters at least 45 days before any federal election. In order to meet this obligation, the primary must move. Last week, the legislature approved moving the date for the primary election to the fourth Tuesday in August. This timing allows enough days after a primary for the primary to be certified, general election ballots printed, and then mailed.
Note: The state does not have the current technology (which would cost millions) to do electronic voting. If there were a year to change the primary election date to ensure deployed Vermonters get their ballots, this is it! We have over 1500 Vermont soldiers deployed to Afghanistan. They are fighting for democracy; let us make sure they can participate in it.
Property Tax & Income Sensitivity Proposals
The Governor’s position is that income sensitivity costs the state too much and that middle-income Vermonters should pay more. Income sensitivity allows working Vermont families to pay based on income without worrying they will be forced out of their homes by rising property values. His proposal is to reduce sensitivity by making families earning $60,000 to $75,000 pay up to 2.25% of their income. The current rate for those families is 1.8%. Also, the Governor would ask those making $75,000 to $90,000 to pay 3.5% of their income in property taxes. Finally, the Governor’s proposal would limit income sensitivity to a house value of $400,000 for Vermonters with household incomes below $90,000. Not too popular, needless to say.
The combined impact of the Governor’s plan would increase homestead education taxes on middle-income households by $24.5 million. Income sensitivity would be eliminated for 15,609 households and reduced for 17,285 households. It would shift taxes paid by those with the highest incomes by $24.5 million and place them on those with lower incomes. It would reduce school taxes paid by owners of non-residential property at the expense of property owners with incomes between $60K and $90K. These are household incomes, so families with two wage earners who make between $30K and $45K each would be negatively affected. Income sensitivity allows retired and elderly Vermonters to live in their homes without the fear of being taxed out of them. It is the right thing to do. The Governor’s proposal is the wrong way to go.
Ignition Interlock Devices
In an attempt to make Vermont’s roads safer and cut down on drinking and driving, the Judiciary Committee is considering requiring ignition interlock devices when someone has been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). An ignition interlock device doesn’t allow a car to start if the driver is impaired due to alcohol. It would allow individuals with a DUI conviction to be able to drive to work, take their children to school or day care and not disrupt functions necessary to family life. Research shows that ignition interlocks reduce recidivism among both first-time and repeat DUI offenders, with reductions in subsequent arrest ranging from 50-90%. In 2008, 12 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Vermont – 16% of all total traffic fatalities. Additionally, 6,069 people have three or more DUI convictions and 833 have 5 or more DUI convictions. To date, 47 states have some type of ignition interlock law – Vermont, Alabama and South Dakota are the only 3 states that do not. How do you think? Let me know at email@example.com or call 802-442-5028 and leave a message.
Electronic waste, or “e-waste,” is the biggest solid waste problem in the U.S. and in Vermont. It represents the fastest-growing portion — and a very toxic portion — of the waste stream. E-waste is made up of computers, televisions, printers, and other electronic products that are very expensive for consumers to dispose of and toxic to humans and the environment when disposed of improperly. Thankfully, the Vermont Legislature has passed S. 77, a “producer responsibility” bill, to solve this statewide problem. Effective next January, the bill will ban the disposal in landfills of all electronic devices, such as computers, monitors, TVs, printers, and other such products which contain lead, mercury and other hazardous substances. Joining some 20 other states, S. 77 also requires the manufacturers of certain of these electronic devices to register in the state and pay a fee according to their market share to fund free, convenient collection sites for e-waste in every corner of Vermont. We expect this legislation to have a major, positive environmental impact.
Current Use is the tax policy which taxes land on its “use value,” not on its market value. It is credited with keeping Vermont’s working landscape – its agricultural and forestry industries – viable.
The House passed the following measures to save money by: 1) establishing a one-year moratorium on the enrollment of land in the Use Value Appraisal Program. It is estimated that this will save $1.15 million; 2) changing the method of calculating the land use change tax, often referred to as the “penalty.” This change re-establishes the original “penalty” of 10% of the fair market value of the withdrawn parcel. The estimate is that this change will raise an additional $550,000 in education property tax for FY11; and 3) removing the preferential property transfer tax rate applied to enrolled land. The rate for enrolled land will now be increased from .5% to 1.25%, which is the same rate applied to all other property transfers. This will raise an additional $300,000 in FY11.
Unemployment insurance dilemma
The Unemployment Fund is nearly tapped out, due to this recession. There are essentially three basic parts to the program: 1) employer insurance premiums, 2) unemployed worker benefits, and 3) borrowing from the federal fund when times are tough.
The maximum benefit to unemployed workers is frozen until the fund is solvent, and last year a one-year change to the unemployment base wage rate was increased from $8,000 to $10,000. This rate increase will expire in January of 2011 unless the Governor signs additional legislation.
The UI premium is based on half of an average Vermont wage. This wage base has not been adjusted for inflation since 1983. When unemployment skyrocketed during the past few years, the UI fund was forced to borrow from the federal fund to support unemployed workers. A study committee recommended a careful approach that increases business cost gradually with fewer cuts to benefits so we can weather this economic storm before refilling the fund.
The legislature is moving carefully on this fix because we realize that any time money is removed from the economy, whether by increased employer costs or decreased unemployment benefits; it has the effect of slowing economic recovery. And both actions could make it harder for our Vermont businesses to survive and thrive.
Rail Update – Federal Rail Money
Vermont applied for over $100 million in three separate stimulus rail grants about a year ago. These awards were announced by President Obama the day after his State of the Union address. The New England Central Rail (NECR) was awarded $50 million, which must be spent within two years, for projects that upgrade the track upon which the Vermonter (Amtrak) runs. These upgrades will increase the train’s travel speed, resulting in more efficient and effective train travel. When you look regionally and nationally, the Vermonter connects with the defined high- speed rail network. Just as important, the upgrades will allow freight weight capacity to increase to industry standard, effectively allowing more goods to move by rail. NECR is a privately owned railroad and has a proven track record of excellent management and gets projects done on time.
The state-owned Western Corridor railway was denied its Tract Two grant. Vermont’s rail division will be challenged to spend the Jefford’s federal funds in a way that positions Vermont favorably for future federal rail investments.
A small but meaningful third grant was awarded to Vermont and New York for about $1 million for rail planning. The planning examines the NYC, Albany, Bennington and Rutland rail routes for future development. This is rail investment with an eye on the future.
Jobs and Transportation $$
Are you one of the citizens asking yourself how using transportation money is going to create jobs and improve our roads and bridges? Do you wonder if the legislature has a role in this process?
Vermont is actually one of the few states that received praise for its quick use of transportation stimulus funds. Doubling of paving funds would quickly create Vermont jobs and treat our roads with much needed paving. With almost half of our state’s roads in poor to very poor condition, the additional funding would be put to immediate good use. In 2009 Vermont spent $58 million on paving. In 2010 we spent $118 million, and in 2011, it is proposed that Vermont spend $93 million.
An average paving mile costs between $200,000 and $400,000. During the 2010 season, Vermonters can expect to see a 32% increase in paving from last season which will create 200-300 new jobs. This is the good news. However, it is sobering to realize that over a third of Vermont roads are rated very poor. The cost of getting that under 25% is estimated at $150 million over a two-to-three-year period.
The House is working on legislation that would require that any substantial electrical work at any level of construction is to be done by licensed electricians. Up to now, unlicensed electricians could work on single family homes and duplexes – meaning any of the homes we live in may have been wired by someone who was not licensed and required to follow electrical code.
This pending bill would increase the safety of our homes by ensuring that licensed electricians will only be doing the work. If an owner wants to wire his or her own home, he or she may still do so.
School Consolidation or Merger
There are several bills that are proposed regarding merger and/or consolidation– one in the Senate and one in the House. The Senate bill (S.252) proposes to reduce the number of supervisory unions from the current 60 to no more than 16, similar to the current technical center districts. If the bill passes, by July 1, 2012 the commissioner of education would have finalized the new districts, and they would go into effect.
The centralized authority would include one board based on at-large representation and one superintendent. All purchasing, special education, transportation, negotiations, determination of common level of appraisal, school choice, technical center and preschool affiliation, and other transitional issues would be fully implemented by July 1, 2014.
The House Education Committee is working on a proposal that would provide incentives for neighboring districts to voluntarily merge and form a unified supervisory district (USD). USDs must be a K-12 district of a minimum of 1250 students and the merging districts must be contiguous, among other pre-requisites. Items being discussed as incentives would include setting education spending and a tax rate for four years. The new Unified Supervisory District would have a single governing board. No schools could be closed before 2018 unless voted otherwise. Collective bargaining, transportation, single management of business services, delivery of special education services, school choice, one tax rate, to name a few.
The Governor has recommended raising the deductible from $250 to $1,200 as well as significantly raising the co-pays. But the legislature will do its utmost to keep the deductible under $500 and to keep co-pays as low as possible.
You are eligible for Catamount if you have been uninsured for the past 12 months. But the waiting period is waived if you are uninsured because you lost your job, graduated from college, or meet any number of other criteria.
FY 2011 Budget Impacts
Balancing the budget while respecting the needs of Vermonters is very difficult. The administration has proposed dramatic cuts that will have severe effects on Vermonters. Services that will have less funding include assistance that allows seniors to live at home longer instead of having to go into a nursing home; assistance that helps families with children move out of poverty by helping the parents become part of our workforce; assistance that allows individuals with disabilities to live with dignity and as much independence as possible; and assistance to families caring for a member who has a disability, whether it’s a child with a developmental disability or Grampa who has Alzheimer’s. There are many more proposed cuts, and some families may be affected by cuts in a number of areas, making the cumulative effect devastating for that family.
The legislature has heard repeated concerns about many of these proposals. Add to those possible cuts – the demands for those who are unemployed – the fiscal impact on Vermonters is huge. These factors pose a real dilemma for the legislature. We are working to find ways to minimize the reductions and their impacts, but it will be impossible to avoid them completely.
Closing the projected budget gap for next year is a daunting challenge, but we have made significant progress already. The legislature has worked with the Governor’s staff to develop a plan to save $38 million through reforms to increase both efficiency and outcomes of state government. Teachers have contributed another $15 million through an agreement on retirement changes. State employees (including legislators) have contributed about $10 million to the solution through reductions in pay. Prudent savings in this year will allow us also to have over $20 million available to use next year to further reduce the challenge we will face then. The steps taken by the legislature have gone a long way toward creating a balanced budget that meets our financial challenges while trying to respect the needs of Vermonters. Vermont will be changing the way we do business. Sometimes it will take longer, new locations, less staff, merged departments and things will just plain change! We are researching every option to close the remaining shortfall to create a budget that reflects our means as well as Vermont’s community values.
Challenges for Change
Vermont has a fiscal crisis, as defined by shrinking revenues, growing needs and demanding economic times. Vermont needs to make real changes to make sure the shortfall does not continue to plague us in future years.
The state’s present budget process annually builds on what has gone before and seeks to inject another round of money and personnel into essentially the same structure. This is a prescription for maintaining the status quo; thus the need for change.
The change needed is straightforward: to ask a different question. Instead of asking “What resources are needed to continue or improve the existing effort,” we now ask “What does the outcome look like and how is it measured?” We change from purchasing an effort to purchasing an outcome, one that citizens value at a price they are willing to pay.
These are the overall goals of the recently enacted Challenges for Change legislation that puts in place a beginning process for Vermont state government to adopt budgeting and administrative practices which several other states have adopted and which have been in place in the private sector for a long time.
This legislation is the result of a joint effort of the House and the Senate, partnered with the Administration, to specifically reduce the state’s general fund budget by $38M though the process of achieving eight specific “challenges” set out in the legislation. We hired Public Strategies Group to guide us in what is a difficult shift in mind-set, but so worth the effort when we realize that it will lead to better results for the use of our public dollars and more accountability for those results.
The Committee played a role in developing the “outcomes” for Corrections that are incorporated in the Challenges for Change initiative. We plan to improve the effectiveness and productivity of state operations while also reducing costs. The corrections ‘Challenge for Change’ directs the human service agency, the education department and the court system to work together to stop the revolving door at the Department of Corrections. These departments will work together to decrease recidivism while ensuring community safety. $20 million will be saved in the next two years. Of these savings $3 million in 2011 and $2 million in 2012 will be reinvested in programs and services in the community which will reduce the number of people entering into the corrections system and help ensure people within the corrections system will not re-offend once they are released.
Statistics have shown that 51% of people in the corrections system will re-offend within 3 years of release from jail. The legislature is looking to its partners at the state and local level to break this cycle, such as reducing the number of nonviolent offenders incarcerated through diversion to community restorative justice and treatment programs and reducing the rate at which released offenders commit new crimes and return to prison.
School budgets are down
School boards across the state have done an exceptional job managing their budgets this year. It appears that 2011 statewide spending will be level or slightly below budgets from 2010. The projected base tax rate of .88 cents anticipated a 2% increase in spending. The legislature will set the final rate later in the session based on more current revenue forecasts as well as approved budgets.
The House Education Committee receives regular updates from the Vermont Department of Education regarding proposed budgets and it appears that boards and superintendents are managing staff to match declining enrollments, but special education costs continue to be a concern in some areas of the state. The Vermont Department of Education will be working with school districts over the next two years to help reduce special education costs.
Supporting Our National Guard
We, as legislators, commend the 1,500 Vermonters from across the Green Mountain State deploying to Afghanistan. On the first day of the legislative session, the House passed a resolution honoring the Vermont Guard and continues to make every attempt to ensure our servicemen and women do not have to worry about their families back home while they serve our nation overseas.
The House and Senate have passed the Military Parents’ Rights Act, which protects the parental rights of military members when they are absent from their children’s lives due to orders. Swift mobilization can be disruptive to custody arrangements, sometimes causing military parents to lose access to their children because of deployment. The bill expedites court processes and custody hearings, requires the non-deploying parent to facilitate contact between the child and deployed parent, and stipulates that a permanent loss of custody cannot be based solely on deployment.
It is important to the legislature that deployed Guard members be able to focus on completing their mission and returning safely to their families. If you have a loved one deployed overseas and need financial or resource assistance, please call the Vermont Veteran and Family Outreach 24-hour hotline: (888) 607-8773.
The Capital Bill
The Capital Bill is the legislation that allocates the state’s bonded dollars to construction of productive infrastructure for the state and for towns. In this way it can support government functions and invest in infrastructure for economic development while also creating jobs. Every year the state borrows money by issuing new bonds in order to finance such projects and we pay off bonds issued in earlier years. Issuing bonds means borrowing money and the amount of the bonded dollars this year is to be $71 million.
Some of the projects this year include the following. We will rebuild and renovate the Bennington State Office Building, which is expected to employ a geothermal system for heating and cooling, and do major maintenance on other state buildings throughout Vermont. We will improve our state park systems and fish hatcheries. We will support investments in agriculture that will help farmers and protect the water quality of our lakes and rivers. We may use some funds for information technology; investments in hardware and software for state agencies will help us to achieve our goal of improving the effectiveness of government.
The Capital Bill will also contain funding for towns applying for federal money to upgrade water and sewer facilities, which are an essential component of economic development. The Building Communities grants will continue to provide funds to municipalities and nonprofits for particular capital improvement projects. There will probably be some level of funding to continue to pay down the backlog of the state share of school construction still owed to the towns, rather than shifting this obligation onto the Education Fund as the governor recommended. The moratorium on making the commitment to pay the state share on new construction remains in place, except for emergency projects or consolidation.
Farm to School
Farm to School connects schools to local farms with the objective of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting regional farmers. The Vermont program, one of the most successful in the nation, is run by a collaborative called VT FEED, which has served over 100 schools with technical assistance by providing grants for planning and implementation.
Unfortunately, at the same time that we are beginning to recognize the long-term benefits of eating healthy local foods, especially starting at an early age, the funding for this program has been cut completely from this year’s budget. However, Senate bill S.288 uses federal stimulus money specifically to help increase institutional purchases of fresh, locally grown foods. Passage of this bill would likely mean at least partial funding of this important program.
Texting and Highway Safety
The House is committed to a comprehensive approach to keeping our highways safe. While we are pleased the Senate passed a ban on texting, it is only part of the larger problem of distracted driving and public safety.
Data shows that cell phone use quadruples a driver’s risk of a crash. Youth are already more likely to be in crashes, yet are a much smaller portion of the driving population. The National Center for Disease Control considers youth highway fatalities a public health risk. Each year highway crashes cost Vermont $234 million in Medicaid, emergency services, law enforcement, and other programs and services. Therefore, a bill that restricts cell phones to hands-free only by adults, bans cell phones and hand-held electronic devices for junior operators (16-17 year olds), imposes a nighttime curfew for junior operators, bans texting and mandates seatbelt use would be a comprehensive, responsible approach to saving lives and keeping our communities safe.
Towns protecting their rivers PASSED
The river corridor bill allows towns to prevent pollution and increasingly expensive, taxpayer-funded, after-the-fact clean-up of Vermont’s rivers, lakes and streams, resulting from runoff and flood hazards. Respecting water courses, respecting a river’s natural need to swell and recede, while leaving vegetative buffers like shrubs, grasses, and trees next to rivers, lakes and ponds is an effective, scientifically proven and inexpensive way to prevent a lot of pollution from entering our waterways.
This river corridor bill is designed to build support and buy-in at the local level. If it is enacted into law, the Agency of Natural Resources will be asked to provide educational, technical and mapping services as well financial incentives to towns that are interested in adopting shore land and river corridor protection bylaws. This is voluntary, so if a town is not interested in this support, there is no requirement for it to participate.
Vermont’s Future in Broadband
Everyone needs to be connected to the information superhighway. We know that it’s not just about strengthening businesses’ access to the internet. The ordinary Vermonter is using broadband for some of the most innovative projects. The legislature is investing millions of dollars in new and faster connections for homes and business districts.
By investing money in targeted skills-building programs, we help Vermonters get good jobs and we provide businesses with access to qualified and productive future employees.
Access to Capital
We are addressing one of the root causes of our current recession – tightening of the credit markets and lack of access to cash. For cities and towns, as well as large, medium, and small companies, Vermont provides bonds with especially low interest rates and tax deductions, as well as loans with below-market rates. For entrepreneurial low-income Vermonters, we offer help with critical business skills; we also provide small grants to help them found their own businesses that also keep them off public assistance.
Democracy: Changing the Date of the Primary Election
Vermont received notice this fall that we are not in compliance with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. Beginning with the November 2, 2010 general election states must send absentee ballots to overseas voters at least 45 days before any federal election. Last month, the legislature approved moving the date for the primary election to the fourth Tuesday in August. The secretary of state’s office has requested moving the primary date forward since 2000 but the legislature never acted on it. Presently our laws are set up to send ballots out 30 days before an election.
Vermont law now allows town clerks to email a ballot to a voter overseas in a PDF file, which he or she prints out, completes, and mails back, along with a signed certificate. These ballots must arrive by 7 p.m. the night of the election.
Moving the date is the best solution for following the federal law. Proposals to create an electronic voting system would cost money in a year when we are trying to find $150 million in savings. Even if we invested in new technology to receive ballots back electronically we would still have to meet the requirement to send the ballot 45 days before the election.
If there was a year to change the primary election date to ensure deployed Vermonters get their ballots, this is it! We have over 1500 Vermont soldiers deployed to Afghanistan. We need to show our support for our troops so they can exercise their right to vote, too. They are fighting for democracy; let’s make sure they can participate in it.
Mobile Home Ownership
This past summer, a study committee met to make recommendations on mobile home rent-to-own agreements and mobile home transfers. The committee included mobile home advocates, park owners, municipal clerks, Legal Aid, and the attorney general’s office, among others. Upon receiving the recommendations, the House passed H. 542, a bill to help clarify the process for transferring ownership of a mobile home as well as ensure the rights and responsibilities of buyers and sellers. If passed by the Senate, the bill would clearly identify the requirements for the mobile home uniform bill of sale and define a rent-to-own transaction as a present-sale of property. Additionally, the bill consolidates the laws governing mobile home sales, including rent-to-own transactions, so that they are easier for all parties to understand.
Vermont Yankee Closing: passed Senate February 24, 2010.
Last week the Vermont Senate cast a vote that would effectively prohibit the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant after its license expires in 2012. Legislative approval is one of three things that are required for the plant to continue operating after 2012. Along with Legislative approval for the Public Service Board to issue a certificate of public good, Entergy must also receive approval for re-licensure from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Barring a reversal of the Senate decision, the plant is poised to shut down on schedule.
Vital questions remain to be answered by Entergy. These include discovering and fixing the source of the ongoing tritium leak, which the Vermont Department of Public Health has been monitoring daily. Also, the Legislature will also want to ensure that all decommissioning costs are borne by the plant owners and are not passed on to Vermont taxpayers. Finally, the legislature will work to ensure that alternative energy sources are identified and actively pursued.
Vermont’s Farm to Plate Program: Economic Opportunity & Health
While Vermont is an agricultural state, we import 97% of the food we eat, and we send $2.5 billion out of state to buy in this food. This huge expense also represents a great opportunity: if we can grow and process just 10% more of our food, we can add approximately $500 million each year to the state’s economy. Further, this is growth we can achieve without spending new money, but simply by shifting the money we already spend on food from out-of-state to in-state sources.
Farm to Plate will help that happen. The program means more jobs—growing, processing, distributing, and selling Vermont food. In addition, these are sustainable, long-term jobs, as the demand for food is, of course, ongoing. This shift to growing more of our own food also means that Vermont agriculture, which is now very dependent on dairying, will become more diversified and stable. This is especially good news for our rural economy.
Vermont’s Farm to Plate program, now its first year of operation, is developing a strategic plan for rebuilding Vermont’s food system over the next decade. Farm to Plate will bring more fresh local food to all Vermonters at a time when they are increasingly asking for such healthy foods.