Healthy Snack Choices – Can They Come From Vending Machines?

Healthy Snacks from a Vending MachineLong Island Parent Source, January 2012.- It is reported that millions of schools and workplaces around the nation have vending machines available – but do these vending machines offer healthy snack ideas? I would think that from a school perspective, most schools that offer vending machines are at the middle-school and high-school level, where kids are spending time there in addition to the regular school hours due to club attendance and sports practices.  Regardless of age, when that mid-afternoon craving for a snack hits, both adults and kids have difficulty finding a healthy choice that won’t leave them feeling guilty or gaining weight after a few weeks or months.

Although vending machines generally have a bad rap for being filled with sugar and candy and soda, the good news is that there are vending machines available that are completely stocked with guilt-free, healthy snack choices. Many and businesses have opted for vending machine makeovers to promote healthy snacking – stocking machines with healthy snacks such as granola bars, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein bars, yogurt and baked crackers and chips.  The healthy alternatives are truly a win-win for everyone involved – if you eat a healthy snack, you will feel good and be more productive, and most importantly, healthy.

Many schools and workplaces have been resistant to the change because they feel that it will be extremely time consuming or that the students/employees don’t want the change. If your school or office has a vending machine that is not stocked with the most healthy snacks, here are some tips to successfully makeover that vending machine into a healthy snack refuge.

    1.    Get the facts. There are many good reasons to seek a vending machine makeover. Gather some facts about obesity, such as these trends provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stating that a third of all adults are now obese and that 17 percent of all children are considered obese. There are good reasons for wanting to provide a healthy work and school environment, all the way down to the snacks in the vending machine.

    2.    Find supporters. The more people there are in the office or school who would like a vending machine makeover, the better. Circulate a petition or organize a committee of people to work together toward achieving that goal.

    3.    Offer alternatives. Be ready to suggest a way to outsource the transition, such as a company who can fill the vending machines with healthy alternatives.  The decision makers will be more apt to jump at the chance for the makeover if they realize how simple and cost-effective it can be.

    4.    Be heard. The powers-that-be need to know that people want healthier options in the vending machines. This can be done by writing a letter or arranging a meeting with administration to discuss the topics in an open environment.

    5.    Follow through. Once the school or office has been informed that change is needed, it is important to follow through with the request. While avoiding badgering them is important, it is equally vital that the issue remain on their radar screen so that change can eventually take place.