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Healthier Vending now in Baltimore, Maryland


Over the course of the last two years, Baltimore advocates worked side by side with the health department to ensure at least half of the foods and beverages sold in vending machines on city owned facilities are healthy.

The shift to healthy vending began in September 2013, when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings announced a Healthy Vending Pilot Project with a commitment to full implementation by 2015. Considering the city has hundreds of vending machines in public facilities all over the city—including libraries, community centers, parks, pools, museums, and skate and ice rinks—this was no small feat. On October 23, 2015, the city officially launched their Healthy Vending in all vending machines across the city. More than 18,000 city employees will benefit from this change as well as the 622,000 residents of the City of Baltimore.

What does this ‘healthy vending’ look like?

The key criteria written into the Food and Beverage Vending Services RFP includes the following standards. One thing to note here is that nuts are generally given an exception due to high nutrition content, but also higher fat content. The vending contract also requires healthy items to be priced comparatively or less expensive than less healthy items.

  • All foods will have no trans fats and must contain less than 241 mg sodium per serving AND at least one item must be less than 140 mg per serving.
  • And 50% of foods will be:
    • Low fat: not more than 35% of total calories from fat and not more than 10% of calories form saturated fat.
    • Low sugar: not more than 35% total weight from sugars and caloric sweeteners.
    • Low calorie: no more than 200 calories per label serving.
    • All beverages must have fewer than 250 calories total and vegetable juice must contain less than 230 mg of sodium per serving.
    • And 50% of beverages must contain less than 40 calories per serving, except for 100% juice and unsweetened milk. Beverages that meet the nutrition standards include:
      • No calorie options: water, coffee, tea, diet sodas
      • Milk: Non-fat or 1% milk and flavored milk with less than 15 g of added sugar per 240 ml serving
      • Juice: 100% fruit or vegetable juice and fruit-based drinks with at least 50% juice and no added caloric sweeteners
      • Sports Drinks: sports drinks with no more than 100 calories
      • Water is also required to be stocked and placed “in the position with the highest selling potential” and the opposite is true for high calorie beverages.

What does your community vending contract look like?

As Baltimore joins dozens of other cities in getting their vending contracts in top shape, we’d like to hear how your city compares and what efforts are underway to make healthy choices easier for city or county employees as well as the public visiting government-owned facilities. Share your story with us at [email protected]!

Are you looking for advice on how to start healthy vending? Look no further than the American Heart Association’s Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage toolkit.