Breast milk banks may be regulated in NJ

May 11, 2015
Phil Gregory
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New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to require breast milk banks be licensed by the state Department of Health.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt is concerned that unregulated, shared breast milk might not be stored at the proper temperature.

"Bacteria can come in to the breast milk, and, when an infant is then receiving breast milk that has a high content of bacteria,it can cause severe problems and sometimes death," said Lampitt, D-Camden, Monday during an Assembly committee hearing.

Lampitt's bill, which would require screening of the milk, would also set standards for processing and storage.

But the measure could discourage milk banks from opening in New Jersey, according to Ellen Maughan with the New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition.

"It does stand to increase costs a bit on a commodity that's really needed for sick babies and is already pretty expensive and is not always covered by insurance," Maughan said at the hearing.

Maughan said funding intended for the regulations in Lampitt's measure would be better spent on a public awareness campaign to promote breastfeeding.

"That money could be put toward increasing breastfeeding rates to lessen the demand for shared or banked human milk," she said.

Fifteen nonprofit breast milk banks in other states now provide supplies to New Jersey hospitals.

Christie sticks fork in vegetarian bill

Courier Post
May 8, 2015
Jim Walsh
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Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill Thursday that would have required school districts to consider "culturally sensitive" menu choices for students, including vegetarian fare.

Advocates said the measure, overwhelming approved by the Legislature, would benefit students whose diets reflect religious or cultural restrictions. Among other provisions, it would have require districts to make "all reasonable efforts" to offer hot and cold vegetarian and vegan choices if requested by a student.

But Christie said the measure "would unnecessarily burden" more than 500 school districts across the state.

In a veto message Thursday, he noted the bill would require districts to conduct "food surveys" of middle- and high-school students, and to form an advisory committee if any student indicates an "unmet food preference."

"In light of the many challenges school districts already encounter in order to provide an education worthy of our children's future, I cannot support the additional costs and burdens this bill would impose," Christie said in the statement.

He said parents or students unhappy with cafeteria food could "raise their concerns to the local board of education or elected officials."

The bill won approval by votes of 58-16 in the Assembly and 34-5 in the Senate.

School meal legislation goes to Christie's desk

Courier Post
March 21, 2015
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Legislation co-sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt and Gabriela Mosquera designed to make public schools' breakfast and lunch menus more culturally sensitive was approved 34-5 by the Senate last week, sending it to Gov. Chris Christie's desk.

Bill A-3360 would require superintendents in public school districts containing a middle or high school to establish an advisory committee to recommend breakfast and lunch options that reflect the district's cultural and traditional dietary preferences if the student population suggests such a need exists.

"Consistency in teaching New Jersey's children about embracing cultural diversity requires us to ensure that they know everyone will be welcomed in the classroom as well as in the cafeteria," said Lampitt, D-Camden.

"School breakfasts and lunches cannot provide the nourishment that New Jersey's students need if they aren't eaten," said Mosquera, D-Camden.

"Making vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal and other cultural dietary options available can increase the likelihood that students will eat the food on the menu and help ensure that New Jersey's school nutrition programs reach their intended goal."

Making sure new medicines are safe

The Jersey Journal
March 9, 2015
Joan Quigley
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Most of the pills and injectable medications you take today are made from inert materials in a lab somewhere, but the stuff you may take next year could be made from body cells or plants. They work really well. Perhaps they'll even cure your problem, but currently they are very expensive.

You've heard about them - new kinds of medicine used to treat cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and other debilitating diseases - but you may not know that something very like them will be widely available soon and more affordable. They're called biologics and the oldest of them are coming off patent very soon. So pharmaceutical companies all over the world have developed less expensive versions and want to hit the U.S. market as quickly as possible.

Government at both the federal and state level is grappling with the issue of how to substitute the expensive drugs with the newer versions while ensuring the substitutes work without causing harm. The first issue was what to call them. Cheaper versions of original drugs with inert ingredients are called generics, which means they are virtually identical to the original and work in exactly the same way.

New Emergency Alerts Would Help Find Missing NJ Residents with Disabilities

February 23, 2015
Andrew Kitchenman
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New Jersey has Amber Alerts to help find missing children. Silver Alerts are for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. MVP Emergency Alerts could be on the way for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Advocates for the new alert system say that residents with these disabilities sometimes wander away from their families or caregivers, but can be ignored by passersby who aren’t aware of their conditions, potentially putting their lives at risk.

That’s why legislators are looking to institute the state’s third emergency alert system as a way of stopping missing-persons crises and save lives.

Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Burlington and Camden) said at a hearing on a bill (A-2709/S-2668) that would create the system that while she wasn’t aware of incidents in the state that would have benefited from having the system in place, she wanted to be proactive and prevent crises.

“These individuals when they become flustered, they become upset, they can become very non-approachable,” Lampitt said, adding that other people -- including police officers -- may believe that they’re acting irrationally due to drug or alcohol use. “They’re irrational because they’re scared,” she added.