Healthy Vending Policies
Providing healthier options in vending machines is an easy way to have healthier food in your park and recreation facilities year-round. Since most vending machines are operated by a contractor, the main responsibility for the agency in implementing this policy change is developing healthy food guidelines, and finding a vendor that is willing to provide healthier options.
Guidelines for Healthy Vending
There are dozens of healthy vending guidelines, and some are better than others. The National Automatic Merchandising Association, which is the industry standard has a healthy vending program called Fit Pick, which identifies products with less than 35% calories from fat, less than 10% from saturated fat, and less than 35% of the total weight from sugar. This can be used as a starting point, and includes a list of snack foods that qualify. However, healthy vending policies should be aware of overall calories per serving, as well as sodium consumption. Here in North Carolina, Mecklenburg County Health Department's sample policy limits snacks to less than 200 a serving, and less than 480mg of sodium. Cabarrus County Active Living and Parks also has a healthy vending policy. To learn more, watch the Wellness Webinar they presented about their healthy vending and concession policies.
But having a healthy list of foods is not enough. In order to be most effective, policies should designate a percentage of food in each machine that will meet healthy guidelines (at least 50%). Language can be added to your policy that stipulates that healthy food is sold at equivalent prices to other foods, and that healthy food is displayed prominently in the vending machine. For more information, go to Seattle and King County's Healthy Vending Toolkit. They provide a listing of guidelines, pricing tips, display ideas, and even posters that you can use to share you agency's policy changes with the public. Seattle's healthy vending campaign began with their parks and recreation department. You can read about the outcome of that change in the resources section. Another greeat resource is Healthy Vending Iowa, which outlines implementation of healthy vending options across a large number of vending machines.
Healthy Vending Providers
Below are a list of vending companies that service North Carolina that include healthy options. Their guidelines on healthy foods may vary from those discussed above. Talk with your vending service provider to find items that will meet your needs. These companies serve the entire state, unless otherwise noted.
After you adopt you healthy vending policy change, share it with us, so we can add your advice on this page. Then try one of these ideas:
Healthy Vending Guidelines
Healthy Vending Impact
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