Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, increasing their risk for serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
A 2011 study found that Americans consume an average of 25% of their daily calories from snacks and sugary beverages that are often found in vending machines.
There is a growing demand for more nutritious, convenient options where people live, work, and play. According to a 2010 Snack Food Association report, 74% of consumers are trying to eat healthier, and sales of healthier snacks are outpacing traditional snack foods by 3 to 1.
Implementing a healthy vending policy helps to assure that people have a choice when they want a snack.
Healthy vending can benefit your organization by improving the health and productivity of your staff and by demonstrating your commitment to worksite and community wellness.
Setting an example of healthy institutional policies and practices can influence other organizations.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED HEALTHY?
Your organization will determine the standards that work best for you based upon your goals and your audience. Nutrient rich whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are considered the healthiest options.
Most healthy vending standards focus on limiting the amount of calories and added fat, sugar, and sodium per serving and require that a certain percentage of the vending machine be healthy (i.e. 50%, 100%).
From a public health perspective, 100% healthy vending is ideal. If this is not possible, you might want to consider a phase-in approach that will steadily increase the percentage of healthy products every year.
Model healthy vending standards:
Model Beverage and Food Vending Machine Standards from the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity geared towards governmental agencies and can also be used for work sites
The King County Healthy Vending Guidelines (KCHVG) takes into account the nutritional value of the snack and whether it contains fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. Healthy Vending in King County is a two-page summary of these guidelines. Check out the Healthy Vending Checklist and a Comparison of Healthy Vending Guidelines. Below is a table summarizing these King County guidelines:KCHVG summary table
WHAT ARE BEST PRACTICES FOR HEALTHY VENDING?
PARTNERSHIP: Working in collaboration with your current vendor, so that healthy vending implementation will be successful and mutually beneficial.
PARTICIPATION: Asking your target audience for their feedback on what healthy items they want in the machines through surveys and taste tests.
PLACEMENT: Labeling the healthy options and placing them at eye level in the machines.
PRICE: Pricing the healthy options so that they are competitive with the other items, if not cheaper.
PROMOTION: Promoting the healthy options through marketing materials around the vending machines, in key locations, and in e-mails, newsletters, social media, etc.
POLICY: Developing a healthy vending policy and/or contract that is written and binding to achieve concrete and lasting changes.
WHAT ARE SUCCESS STORIES IN WASHINGTON STATE? YMCA’s Healthy VendingYMCA Healthy Vending
In October 2013, the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, passed an Executive Order requiring healthful food in all state facilities, with standards similar to the KCHVG.
The YMCA in King County adopted 100% Healthy Vending based on the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards of the National After-School Association. Parents have expressed appreciation for the healthy vending items that include apples and low-fat string cheese.
Seattle Parks and Recreation adopted 100% healthy vending, based on their own guidelines. Seattle Parks and Recreation saw an initial dip in sales, which went back up.
In 2013, the City of Seattle passed and implemented healthy vending ordinance requiring all vending machines on city property to carry at least 50 percent “healthiest” or “healthier” foods, as defined by the KCHVG.
Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is requiring their next contracted vendor in 2014 to put a minimum of a 50% healthy vending based on the KCHVG. SHA’s vending RFP was released in July 2013.
Low-Income Housing Institute is implementing a Healthy Food and Beverage Policy (Draft Policy – December 2013) that incorporates healthy vending language requiring a minimum of 50% healthy vending based on the KCHVG.
Check out the report on King County Healthy Vending Case Studies Report and here for more examples of organizations making healthy food and beverage changes.