Mayor Emanuel in front of a vending machine. (BROOKE COLLINS / BROOKE…)
The office vending machine may soon come under a snack attack.
Mayor Emanuel on Wednesday asked Chicago businesses and organizations to participate in a citywide vending challenge to offer healthy snacks in their vending machines.
“We know it’s the right thing to do. We’re leading by example,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair.
Healthy food options started popping up last month in vending machines at city-owned buildings after the City Council passed a healthy vending policy in December. The city said 40 percent of healthy vending machines have been installed and the remainder is expected to show up in the next couple months.
At least 75 percent of food and drinks in the 300 vending machines found at city buildings will have healthy, affordable options.
Businesses and organizations who take on the challenge will trade salty junk food and sugary drinks for items that are lower in sugar, salt and fat.
Under the program, machines are designated as gold, silver or bronze depending on the percentage of healthy items held within (100 percent, 75 percent or 50 percent, respectively.) Healthy items will be defined as those that meet the American Heart Association’s food procurement standards.
They can choose among a gold, silver or bronze vending policy meaning 100 percent, 75 percent, or 50 percent of items respectively meet guidelines for healthy vending based on the American Heart Association’s healthy food procurement standards. In return, the city will recognize the participants, Choucair said.
So far, the city said a handful of organizations intend to sign on. According to the city: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the YMCA of Chicago, Vanguard Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Chicago. Together, they account for more than 100 vending machines throughout Chicago, the city said.
The challenge was created as part of Healthy Places, a partnership between the city’s public health department and the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children.
“It’s going to be great to see environments with more, healthier options available for our residents,” Choucair said.
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