Vending Machines go Healthy and Organic
Photo from allnaturalhealthyvending.com
Written by guest blogger Elaine Hirsch
Recent studies have revealed shocking statistics on childhood obesity in the United States. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of children and adolescents in 2008 were obese or overweight, reflecting a triple increase in childhood obesity in just 30 years. In order to combat this epidemic, the food that children have access to in vending machines at schools and other public venues has been under heavy scrutiny. This has led to the creation of a number of positive enterprises that give school children organic, low fat, low sugar, fresh and nutritious snack items.
One such California based company, Fresh Healthy Vending, has about 800 machines set up nationwide, featuring what co-creator Byron Marshall states are a “healthy versions of what you’d find in regular vending machines.” Inside these vending machines students can find options like soymilk instead of soda, yogurt instead of candy, fresh fruits and vegetables instead of over-processed foods, and a variety of other nutritious options which surprisingly all have the same shelf life like their junk food counterparts. The Marshalls are hopeful that in time their vending machines will make it into more schools, and perhaps even colleges, across the nation allowing everyone from kindergarten students to those in PhD programs to have healthy options from which to chose.
Similarly, Revolution Foods was recently awarded a contract for healthy vending machines in the Boulder Valley School District after a successful pilot program in seven schools in Denver and Colorado Springs. In addition to changing the unhealthy options kids have to snack on, Revolution Foods is making a further impact by donating a percent of its profits back to the schools.
Ultimately, schools will have to go a step further than planting vending machines with healthy and organic options on their premises’. They are going to have to invest time and energy in convincing their students that healthy and organic snacks are good for them and can be just as great tasting as their unhealthy counterparts. They are also going to have to encourage their students to carry through with healthy eating outside of school. Although choosing a bag of cookies over a bag of carrots might not seem like a big deal to a child, it can make a tremendous difference in their lives in the long run.