Early Briefing: Vending in Schools

It's Monday, the day the Business section goes all local. As part of the series on obesity in children, we take a look at the vending-machine business.

(By Carol Guzy - The Washington Post)

*Stephanie McMahan stockpiled Clif Bars, baked pita chips, and rice and corn puffs. With items like those, she could fill her proposed Smart Snacks vending machines and market them to places such as schools - a good move with childhood obesity on the rise, she thought.

Today, McMahan has eight contracts, which include a gym, a hospital and a martial arts studio. But after taking her pitch to a number of local schools, she has a machine at only one: Manassas Park High, with 600 students.

In the battle against childhood obesity, vending machines have been labeled the enemy by the Agriculture Department, which sponsors school lunches. To students, the machines are often an alternative to long lunch lines and sometimes unappetizing food.

Staff writer Kendra Marr describes what happens if you hang out with one during lunch?

*In the first three months of 2008, leasing activity in the Washington area hit its slowest period since the second quarter of 1995, according to data from CoStar. Analysts said companies were increasingly wary of committing to space in the midst of a slow economy.

We look at how much companies moving in and leasing area buildings can help the local economy: Volkswagen of America's ongoing move from suburban Detroit to a six-story office building along the Dulles Toll Road in Herndon is giving the region a $100 million pop .

*The Defense Intelligence Agency plans to be the first of the 16 agencies in the government's intelligence community to convert to a pay-for-performance system. It will making the transition in September, Stephen Barr reports in Federal Diary.

"The world has changed pretty dramatically. So we wanted to do something that would put emphasis on rewarding superior performance," said Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence.

*Long & Foster opened its new headquarters, but it's not exactly trumpeting the fact. Unveiling a grand $86 million building modeled after the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg during an economic downturn doesn't exactly boost the morale of the company's 16,000 real estate agents.

"Had we known, we would have delayed the project," said George Eastment, president of Long & Foster Financial Services.

*Joining the board of advisers for RedShift Ventures of Arlington are Frank Bonsal, co-founder of New Enterprise Associates, and Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and a former governor of Pennsylvania.

By Terri Rupar  |  May 19, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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