Food at Work: VENDING

Why focus on vending?

In the past, most wellness programs focused on screening and education to encourage individual behavior change and better health. Today there is increasing evidence that true and lasting behavior change is best achieved when education is also paired with an environment that supports healthy choices. Cafeterias, snack carts, and other food service options are key to creating  healthy food environments at work.  Healthy vending offerings can also have a substantial impact. Not only do the majority of work sites have vending machines, but recent studies have shown that:

  • People want—and are more likely to buy—food out of vending machines if the selections are healthier.
  • Reducing the price of low-fat vending items is associated with increased sales of those items, with no negative effect on machine profits.

What can employers do to improve vending choices and support healthier eating behaviors?

  • Complete a vending inventory to find out how many healthy items you currently have and set goals for the future
  • Adopt a healthy vending policy
  • Negotiate with vending companies to increase the number of healthy choices available
  • Change the pricing structure of vending items to encourage the purchase of healthier items
  • Educate employees about healthy choices
  • Change placement of items in vending machines to make healthier items more noticeable
  • Place signs on or around vending machines to promote healthy choices
  • Host a taste test to sample healthy vending options

See the following resources for practical ways to improve the vending food environment in your workplace:

Other useful materials and the entire worksite food environment toolkit can be downloaded from the Education & Tools page.

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How to Read a Food Label

The Nutrition Facts label gives values PER SERVING. In the sample below,  the total package contains two servings and TWO TIMES the values given for each nutrient

Below are the important values to look for on a Nutrition Facts label.

food label instructions

*To calculate Calories From Total Fat Per Serving
Divide fat calories by total calories and multiply by 100 (110 fat calories/250 calories × 100 = 44% of calories from fat).  

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Vending policies

 

Sample 1 - Healthy Vending Machine Sample Policy Sample 2 - Vending Policy Template
policy image policy document image

 

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Vending Machine Inventory Tool

 

Vending machine inventory tool.pdf
policy image

 

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Vendor Resources

As more companies undertake worksite wellness initiatives, it is inevitable that vendors will receive more requests for healthy vending choices. Although a common belief among vendors is that healthy items do not sell, research suggests otherwise.  In a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, low-fat snacks were added to vending machines in 12 worksites.  Price reductions of 10%, 25% and 50% were then introduced.  The result? Percentages of low-fat snack sales increased by 9%, 39% and 93%, respectively.  And just as importantly, average profits per machine were not affected by the changes.  

Vendors who take it upon themselves to provide a healthy vending program are likely to be successful in attracting more customers as demand grows.  Listed below are a few ideas to consider in creating a healthy vending program.

Strategies for vendors

  • Altering the pricing structure to make healthier items less expensive and less healthy items more expensive
  • Change the placement of items so healthier items are at eye level and in more noticeable places
  • Include signage near healthier items to inform consumers
  • Educate drivers and delivery people to ensure consistency in placement and stocking of items
  • Change recipes for prepared items to lower fat and calories in foods

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