We have always supported the federal government?s “competitive foods” regulation requiring that foods of minimal nutritional value not be sold in school cafeterias when the lunch is being served.
Vending machines are retail locations which provide a variety of snacks and beverages. For example, in addition to standard snacking choices, vending machines are available which sell fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, salads, milks and a wide variety of healthy meal choices. They provide similar products which are found at other retail locations such as convenience stores, grocery stores and even in the al a carte line in school cafeterias. Like these other retail locations, vending machines can provide what customers want, whether it?s a traditional snack or a healthy alternative.
Vending provides a very valuable service to those who work irregular hours, or who may not have full-service meal alternatives. For example, federal workers in the White House and Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC use vending for healthy between- meal snacks and for salads after hours. The 24 hour work cycle of these and other government facilities such as congressional office buildings necessitate innovative solutions which vending does provide.
To address the issue of obesity, NAMA developed the Balanced For Life and Fit Pick programs to assist in the issue of providing “healthier for you” choices in vending. Across the country, school and work vending accounts look to our industry and association to partner with them on health and wellness issues. Our voluntary program components help vending operators with tools to help and truly be part of the solution. In addition, because our nutritional programs are a stand-alone resource, each vending operator can easily implement the program he or she thinks is best suited to a particular location. More than 111 government agencies and 85 schools (includes school districts and universities) are currently registered participants in our Fit Pick vending programs.
We agree that childhood obesity is a serious problem that must be addressed and applaud the intent of those working so hard to protect our children. Our members are mothers and fathers ourselves, and certainly want to protect our children?s health and future well-being. When we help our children truly understand the elements of a balanced diet and the importance of being physically active, we can have a lasting impact on their lives, protecting and enhancing their futures.
We also recognize that obesity may be related to a lack of healthy options in geographic areas called food deserts. Our solution is to encourage our operators to place healthy choices in vending machines in under-served communities.