PRINCE FREDERICK, MD - Ed Baddour, president of Royalle Dining Services Inc., is doing his part to address the obesity crisis. With three decades of experience in the vending and foodservice business, Baddour has spent the past couple of years helping initiate a movement geared specifically toward boards of education that is aimed at replacing sugar-laden, fatty and generally unhealthy vending and cafeteria snacks with nutritious treats, water and sugar-free juices.
"We have proven to a number of local school districts that we can provide snacks and beverages that are both healthy and tasty," said Baddour. "The kids love our popcorn, light chips, pretzels, sugar-free and carbonated juices and water. The school systems have learned that they can still make money from these snacks and parents no longer have to worry about what their children are eating from the vending machines at school."
Baddour's idea for wholesome alternatives in the vending industry came after he realized the impact that good eating habits had on his own kids. "I had seen lots of information about the increasingly poor eating habits of children," he said. "I was shocked at the appalling nutritional value of junk foods that were being provided to children in the school system and started a movement among some of my clients to consider providing only healthy, sugar- free, low-salt and low-fat snacks. When given a choice, children will naturally gravitate toward bad foods; but when the only choice is healthy, they seem to adjust pretty quickly."
Cathy Lazor, R.D., director, Division of Food & Nutrition Services, Montgomery County Public Schools, is pleased with the switch. "We are so excited to have these healthy snacks and juices available in our school system," she said. "Our middle and high school students are actually pretty savvy and health-conscious consumers. They know the importance of good nutrition and realize the value these treats provide."
Royalle Dining Services provides healthy snacks for the schools in Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Frederick, Cecil, Harford and Howard counties in Maryland. The vending company was recently awarded a three-year $5.4 million dollar contract to initiate the healthy snacks and beverage program in Baltimore County as well. The company currently employs 33 people and will soon be seeking additional route drivers, sales and warehouse staff to fill the increasing demand for healthy snacks. "It's great to see such interest in better quality snack foods," said Baddour. "I am hopeful that the trend will continue into office parks, hospitals and government buildings , I think Americans realize that appropriate snack foods and drinks can have a place in their diet and they are happy to make healthy choices when there are alternatives."