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Tulsa Takes New Strides to Improve Health


In Tulsa, Oklahoma, new rules for nutrition standards for city-owned vending machines went into effect when the city attorney signed an executive order on July 2, 2015. This ensures that vending machines on city owned and leased properties, such as public libraries, parks, nature centers, the convention center and the Tulsa Zoo all meet recommended nutrition standards and use calorie labeling to provide patrons with healthier options as well as basic education on what is available. In addition, Tulsa’s 900 city employees will benefit from healthier choices in vending machines where they work, including City Hall, police and fire departments and the Gilcrease Museum. With a population of 398,000, including approximately 100,000 children, this is a critical step in building a culture of health for all Tulsans.

The American Heart Association advocates for healthier options in all worksite cafeterias and vending machines. The Tulsa effort began in early 2014 when healthy vending was an emerging policy issue for the American Heart Association. Collaboration with community partners, such as the Tulsa County Wellness Partnership, Tulsa Health Department, and Tulsa Human Resources Department, elevated the issue further. The City of Tulsa was already offering healthy food and beverage options in vending machines in City Hall.  Mayor Dewey Bartlett and his staff willingly supported the importance of codifying the City’s practice of offering healthy options in Vending Machines on City Hall and expanding this to all City property through the adoption of an executive order and policy memorandum.

Resources are available to help companies develop their own policies and tips to make a workplace healthier in the Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit .

This effort would not have been successful without numerous discussions with the mayor’s director of community development, meeting with many stakeholders to get buy-in, building grassroots and community support through securing numerous online petitions and postcard petitions at American Heart Association and community events , securing a letter of support from the Tulsa Firefighters Union and working with the Tulsa Board of Directors to submit a formal letter of support and engage the Mayor’s office.