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President Obama's Message

Why did the President take this action? Readers need to be aware of a little history.

In November 2010, the Board of Directors of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America™ participated in a three-day retreat in Kenner, Louisiana to sort out where the organization was going, how it would deal with major issues in the future, and what kinds of initiatives we should bring forward in the near, medium, and long term. One of the issues the Board agreed to was to seek from the White House and the President an Executive Order supporting the Randolph-Sheppard priority and the Act.

Under RSVA President Dan Sippl’s leadership, work began on the project. ACB’s President Mitch Pomerantz endorsed the effort, and the ACB office, including Executive Director Melanie Brunson and Eric Bridges, the Director of Governmental Affairs, worked to get an appointment with Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for disability issues. Kareem himself is blind, and is a lawyer from Chicago.

Dan, Melanie, Eric, and I met with Kareem on a hot day in August, 2011 and urged him to persuade the President to support and sign an Executive Order. RSA Commissioner Lynnae Ruttledge and her deputy, Ed Anthony, also attended the meeting.

We talked with Kareem Dale for more than an hour, a generous amount of time for an incredibly busy Presidential Assistant. At the end of the meeting he pledged, “We’ll do something.” And do something he did. Scarcely five months later, the President signed the Memorandum.

We can all be proud of the job done by ACB and RSVA to secure this extremely important and historic Memorandum, and pleased with the strong support from the RSA Commissioner. The Presidential Memorandum is printed below in its entirety.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 20, 2012


SUBJECT: Federal Support for the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program

Thousands of Americans who are blind have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit that helps define our Nation as a land of opportunity. Through the Federal Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program administered by the Department of Education, talented and creative individuals who are blind have acquired the management training and business skills necessary to realize the American dream -- a lifetime of economic opportunity, independence, and self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.

For 75 years, blind business managers have successfully operated food services and commercial ventures at Federal, State, and private buildings and locations nationwide. We honor and celebrate this program's historic achievements. We also trust that the Randolph-Sheppard Program will continue to be a leading model for providing high-quality entrepreneurial opportunities for blind individuals. From a simple snack shop, to tourist services at the Hoover Dam, to full food-services operations at military installations, blind entrepreneurs have provided exceptional customer service to Federal and State employees, the Armed Forces, and the general public. With proven ability, they have challenged preconceived notions about disability.

The Randolph-Sheppard Act (20 U.S.C. 107 et seq.) created the Vending Facility Program requiring qualified blind individuals be given a priority to operate vending facilities on Federal properties. This program is responsible today for providing entrepreneurial opportunities for over 2,500 individuals who are blind. In turn, these business managers have hired thousands of workers, many of whom are individuals with disabilities. Every American, including persons with disabilities, deserves the opportunity to succeed without limits, earn equal pay for equal jobs, and aspire to full-time, career-oriented employment.

Continued support and cooperation are needed from executive departments, agencies, and offices (agencies) to extend the Randolph-Sheppard priority to qualified blind managers through the State licensing agencies that implement the program. Therefore, I direct all agencies that have property management responsibilities to ensure that agency officials, when pursuing the establishment and operation of vending facilities (including cafeterias and military dining facilities) as defined in 20 U.S.C. 107e, issue permits and contracts in compliance with the Randolph-Sheppard Program and consistent with existing regulations and law. I further direct the Secretary of Education, through the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, to submit a report to the President on agencies' implementation of the Randolph-Sheppard Program not later than 1 year from the date of this memorandum.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. The Secretary of Education is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


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