The Vending Facility program authorized by the Randolph-Sheppard Act provides persons who are blind with remunerative employment and self-support through the operation of vending facilities on federal and other property. The program, enacted into law in 1936, was intended to enhance employment opportunities for trained, licensed blind persons to operate facilities. The law was subsequently amended in 1954 and again in 1974 to ultimately ensure individuals who are blind a priority in the operation of vending facilities, which included cafeterias, snack bars, and automatic vending machines, that are on federal property. The program priority has broadened in most states through state laws to include state, county, municipal, and private locations as well. Under the program, State licensing agencies recruit, train, license, and place individuals who are blind as operators of vending facilities located on Federal and other properties. The act authorizes a blind individual licensed by the State licensing agency to conduct specified activities in vending facilities through permits or contracts.
This program was developed following the enactment of the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936, 20 USC 107 et. seq., as amended in 1954 and 1974. The 1936 act was enacted to provide blind persons with remunerative employment, enlarge their economic opportunities, and encourage their self-support through the operation of vending facilities in federal buildings. The U.S. Department of Education prescribes regulations, as set forth in 34 CFR, Part 395, implementing the Act as amended (See 41 CFR 101-20.2). Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities can be established in leased space and under Cooperative Use Space in General Services Administration locations.
In FY 2017, a total of 1,821 blind vendors operated 2090 vending facilities located on Federal and other property. The program generated $664.7 million and the average vendor earnings amounted to $66,240.