Chips. Candy. Even cupcakes.
When one thinks about the snacks typically found in vending machines, healthy fare doesn’t normally come to mind. Salt, sugar and saturated fat do.
But as schools, recreational facilities, offices and other workplaces move toward providing healthier food and beverages for their students, employees and customers, PreventObesity.net Leader Annabel Adams
and the team at HUMAN Healthy Vending
are stepping up to the plate to offer nutritious vending options.
Along with dishing out thousands of delicious, nutritious goodies, HUMAN’s staff also provides nutritional education sessions with its clients to introduce its products, be they kindergartners or career professionals.
Typically, a registered dietitian will visit a vending machine site to talk about the importance of picking healthy snacks to maintain a healthy diet, Adams says. High definition television screens attached to the vending machines also offer customers nutritional information about the products being sold.
Meanwhile, HUMAN staffers work to ensure clients are given choices about what goes into the vending machines, so the products being sold are actually things people want to eat or drink.
“Our franchisees… really create a relationship with the location, so we’re not just putting food in there that doesn’t taste good and just leaving it, and hope somebody buys it,” Adams says.
“We don’t just place a machine there and then leave it,” she adds. “It’s always an open dialogue.”
HUMAN is based in California, but places its vending machines in a variety of facilities nationwide. In particular, the company is aiming to expand its efforts in schools, as many campuses move toward offering nutritious foods and beverages over things such as chips or soda.
It’s a trend that is expected to continue this spring, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to unveil proposed nutrition standards for competitive foods — that is, food or beverages served in schools that aren’t part of a meal, such as an a la carte item or vending machine snack.
Adams notes that many schools already have set rigorous nutrition standards on their own, and turned to HUMAN to provide vending services. All the machines placed have been successful, Adams says.
“We’re excited about that, and that’s proof if you have more interaction with the location and provide that education, that’s actually going to set them up for success,” Adams says.
HUMAN also is expanding its efforts in after-school facilities. The company just announced that it will serve as the sole snack provider for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta’s 21 locations. Six of those locations are in underserved areas known as food deserts, Adams says.
“Our snacks are definitely more than a step-up form the standard junk food fare,” she says. “It’s a nice way to provide healthier snacks to kids who might not have had them otherwise.”