Good Food at Work, School, and Play: Healthy and Sustainable Vending Forum

Did you know that more than 100 million Americans use vending machines each day? As businesses, schools, and the individuals throughout the nation deal with a chronic disease epidemic, many are beginning to take their snacks seriously, including those in vending machines.

In 2016, the top five consumer food trends are simple foods with transparent labels, free for all foods (e.g., gluten-free, wheat-free, etc.), vegetarian options or more animal-friendly products, less processed foods, and products with vegetables incorporated into the recipe. In an effort to make the healthy choice the easy choice, and provide people more of the foods they want, the County of San Diego Public Health Services, UC San Diego School of Medicine, the American Heart Association, and the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative hosted a healthy and sustainable vending forum on Thursday, June 23, 2016.

The purpose of the event was to connect organizations to vendors specializing in healthy, sustainable products; highlighted local best practices; and identified ways organizations could formalize healthy vending as part of their organizational culture through policy.

The event included an all-start cast that inspired change.Aysha Pamukcu, Staff Attorney for ChangeLab Solutions made the case that healthy vending policies and nutrition standards can help reduce the health and economic impacts of obesity-the cost of obesity among full-time employees to employers is approximately $73.1 billion.

Naomi Billups, Public Health Nutrition Manager for the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, and Fabian Cervantes, Human Resources Generalist and Coordinator for Goodwill Industries of San Diego County shared their personal experiences with changing County and organizational policy in nutrition standards at the local level. The County of San Diego revealed that it would soon be updating its policy to go beyond health and promote sustainable products with less packaging waste.

Afterwards, organizations that make this type of vending a reality took to the podium. Representatives from CanteenGrowHealthy On-The-Go Vending, and Daily Harvest Market presented on their product lines and offered samples to guests. Companies were able to provide a wide array of healthier foods from refrigerated to shelf stable, and could even provide organizations that housed the machines a share of the revenue.

If you weren't able to make this event and you want to be part of the movement, don't fret. Resources such as policy examples, tools on the creation of healthy and sustainable vending policies, and a list of healthy vendors are available by contacting JuliAnna Arnett, Food Systems Specialist with the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency. To see more photos from the event, click here.

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