Healthy vending machines- boon or bane?

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By: Bethany Richardson

 

I don’t know about you, but snacktime is essential in my life.  If I don’t have my morning and afternoon snacks, you can be assured of one grumpy girl.  I like to think of my office desk as one giant snack drawer where I just coincidentally happen to do work on occasion.

Just kidding.

I digress; as I have learned more about nutrition, I have made better choices in terms of foods so that my snacking actually fills me up with important nutrients and holds me over to the next meal.  However, having a healthy variety of snacks nearby takes prior planning and not everyone has the luxury of a nearby refrigerator to store their perishables, including many students.  This often means relying on vending machines, which are generally a graveyard for good eating habits.  If you have strong willpower, perhaps you can avoid the dietary downfalls, but I can personally say that it’s going to be extremely hard for me to choose the whole-wheat crackers over a candy bar.

 In order to help improve the snacking scenario for schools, workplaces, and gyms, enter the company HUMAN Healthy Vending.  Their aim is to make healthy food more convenient than junk food with the use of their variety of  interactive vending machines, which can dispense foods from bagged snacks to cold beverages and hot meals.  It enables customers easier access to products like yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milks, and other perishable foods they don’t find in traditional vending machines.  Furthermore, locations can personalize their product mixes, which is especially helpful in K-12 schools that have certain nutritional requirements. When I was  in high school, I personally would have appreciated a place to grab a quick nutrient-dense bite to eat before heading off to swim practice.

Although healthy vending machines are likely not the ultimate solution to help solving our nation’s obesity issues, they certainly seem like a step in the right direction.  While I generally prefer to pack my own meals and snacks (especially for the benefit of lower cost), it would be nice to know that there’s another option if I’m out and about or simply forget.  However, it is important to remember that not all snacks in those vending machines are created equal- a piece of fresh fruit is likely a better choice than a bag of soy chips.

If you’d like to learn more about HUMAN, their CEO was recently interviewed by Food Navigator USA.  You can also check out their website.

 

We want to hear from you- how do you feel about replacing unhealthy vending machine with healthier alternatives? Is it equivalent to packing your own nutritious snacks or does it fail to solve the existing problem?

 

 

Photo credit: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/healthy-vending-machines-gain-ground/story?id=14617705

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3 Comments

  1. Great article. I like the idea. If there are no other options, one is forced to buy something healthy. This happened to me when I was at a hospital recently. I went to go buy a soda from the vending machine but they only had juice and water, so I bought some juice. I was a little annoyed but it forced me to make a healthier decision. This approach may increase consumption of healthier foods and drinks but I don’t think will solve the overall problem because people will still buy what they want at supermarkets and convenience stores.

  2. I definitely agree, Thomas. I’ve always tried to take the phrase “if you buy good food, you will eat good food” to heart when going to the grocery store. Kale has become one of my new favorite healthy foods. plus it’s only $1.50 for a bunch!

  3. Definitely, vending machine business owners are now focusing on the dispensing items which includes healthy food, as it helps to people to get more conscious towards their health. Vending machines can dispense various types of snack items for people, so the idea designing healthy snack items is so great.

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