Featured Programs & Activities
Providing Healthier Vending Options in Clark County

Steps to a Healthier Clark County and community partners are working to achieve a healthier mix of food and beverage selections in the area's vending machines. In March 2006, Steps Worksite and Access to Healthy Food Teams enlisted the support of a local vending company to trial healthier snack and beverage options in vending machines at the Clark County Center for Community Health. This pilot program was well-received and additional community partners identified their desire for healthier vending options. Over the last year, Steps has worked to bring a team of community and vending industry partners together to collaborate on a plan for healthier vending that can be implemented throughout the community.

The coalition adopted nutrition guidelines to define "healthier choice" snacks and beverage options. These criteria are based on dietary recommendations from health organizations including the American Heart Association. The coalition also considered guidelines used in other healthy vending programs such as Kaiser Permanente's "Healthy Picks" program, the Winner's Circle program, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The coalition worked to balance recommendations for a healthy diet with the facts that vending foods are intended as snacks and that there are currently a limited number of products available to meet very strict criteria. As more products become available, the adopted criteria may be reassessed. Examples of "healthier choice" criteria include:

  • Snack¬†foods must contain no more than 35% of calories from fat, 10% from saturated fat, and zero trans fat.
  • Snack foods must contain no more than 35% total weight from sugar, excluding sugar from fruit.
  • Snack items must contain no more than 480 mg sodium per serving.

Steps Clark County is now working to launch a pilot test of healthy vending at selected Vancouver City and Clark County buildings and several area high schools. The City of Portland has also participated in the team's meetings and will initiate a pilot program at the same time. Following these tests, the program will be instituted throughout the member organizations and made available to the community at large. In a typical vending machine, only about 5% of the slots currently contain healthy options. The goal is to increase this amount to 30% over the first two years, with an ultimate goal of 50% healthier items.

Partners

The Steps to a Healthier Clark County coalition works with schools, worksites, health care systems and the community to support Clark County residents who are ready to choose healthy foods, lead active lives, and live in healthy communities. Partners include Clark College, Clark County, City of Portland, City of Vancouver, Community Choices 2010, Evergreen School District, Kaiser Permanente, Southwest Washington Medical Center, Vancouver School District, Evergreen Vending, Willamette Vending, Courtesy Vending, Corwin Beverage, Canteen Vending, Vistar/Vend Products, United Natural Foods, Inc. Funding is provided by a Steps to a Healthier US Grant provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services through the Washington State Department of Health.

Evaluation

Sales data will be compared before and after the pilot test and again before and after implementation of a marketing campaign. Taste tests of new products at the pilot sites and feedback forms will also be used to evaluate the program and products.

Target Audience

Community members, students, city and county employees

Region

Vancouver, Clark County

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