City to get healthier vending options

Baltimore is joining dozens of cities offering healthier vending options in public buildings

Baltimore is joining dozens of cities offering healthier vending options in public buildings. 

Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen will introduce new vending machines this afternoon with at least half the options to include nutritious foods. The city adopted new standards for vending machines in August.

Foods to be offered include baked chips, nuts, granola bars, water and juice. Under the new standards, machines will be required to provide items with no trans-fat, healthy items that are prominently placed and competitively priced, as well as healthier beverage choices, among other things.

The health department said that studies have shown that improving the types of foods and beverages offered in the workplace contributes to better eating habits and helps workers lose weight. The city offered a small amount of healthy vending as part of a pilot and found that employees bought the healthier options.

Baltimore joins cities and counties in 27 states, and some entire states such as California, that have passed healthy vending machine laws, according to a study last year by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

But the trend is growing slowly with hundreds of machines on government property across the country still offering largely "junk," the study found.

Howard County recently began offering healthier vending options after the city council overturned a veto by County Executive Allan Kittleman, who had tried to kill a bill requiring more nutritious snacks in government buildings.

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