Howard County Government to Roll Out Healthy Vending Machines

healthyvendingHoward County Executive Calvin Ball this week announced that the County has begun soliciting bids for healthy vending machines in county government buildings and facilities. This vending machine contract will adhere to the nutritional standards set by CB17-2015, an act sponsored by Ball during his tenure on the county council, “requiring that healthy food and beverage options be provided on certain county properties and for certain county programs.”

According to a press release:

“When I championed this legislation on the County Council, I was responding to community concerns about growing obesity rates and preventable health risks. Today, I am glad to take the next step forward on behalf of our employees, residents, and, most importantly, our kids’ health and wellness,” said Ball. “This change is about taking responsibility as a government to offer healthier options on our property. Howard County is making a declaration to our region and beyond that we will lead by example to expand choice and promote community wellness. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Howard County in the top ten healthiest communities in the nation. Our vision is to get to number one.”

“Making heathy food choices is key to a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Maura J. Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “The availability of healthy food and drink options in our county vending machines makes the choice an easy one, leading to better health and a longer life.”

“Four years ago, County Executive Ball blazed the trail for healthy vending legislation in Maryland as a councilmember. Now, Howard County joins six other Maryland jurisdictions in ensuring the healthy choice is the easy choice in our community vending machines,” said Horizon Foundation President and CEO Nikki Highsmith Vernick. “This is a big win for public health, and we look forward to seeing the changes.”

In adherence with CB17-2015, the new vending machines on Howard County government property will include at least 75% healthy snacks and drinks. They will offer water, fruit and vegetable juices, and non-fat and low-fat milk.  Additionally, they will include snacks with no trans-fat, no more than 200 calories per package, and less than 35% of calories from fat. In addition, “all packaged food or beverage items, served or sold as part of youth-oriented County Government programs, shall be healthy.” Full nutritional details can be found here.

The bids are due August 14th and the contract will be awarded September 13th. Interested companies and vendors can bid for this contract here.

Read the full press release for more information.