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CDC Online Journal Cites NAMA Fit Pick Program As Successful Public-Private Health Partnership

Posted On: 4/6/2009

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Vending, Vending Machine, Coin-op, Centers for Disease Control, Fit Pick, Balanced for Life, National Automatic Merchandising Association, Clark County, Jim Brinton, Evergreen Vending

The partnership between Clark County, Washington's Healthy Communities Program and the National Automatic Merchandising Association's Fit Pick program has been recognized as a "successful public-private partnership for improving health communitywide" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta).

Writing in the April 2009 issue of CDC's electronic journal Preventing Chronic Disease (Vol. 6: No. 2), Dr. Alyssa Easton reviewed the progress of the centers' "Steps" program (now the Healthy Communities Program), of which she is director. Steps was launched in 2003 to advocate policy changes that might lessen the incidence of chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes by influencing behavior that increases the risk of contracting them, including physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

Dr. Easton explained that NAMA's Fit Pick vending program "helps consumers select healthy choices from vending machines. Fit Pick uses standardized sets of nutrition guidelines based on American Heart Association recommendations for a healthy diet and is available to vending operators nationwide."

The visual system for identifying Fit Pick choices is designed to be recognizable to consumers throughout the country. Dr. Easton noted that, to support the program, Clark County also developed step-by-step toolkits and print-ready promotional materials for vendors, worksites, schools and communities. The nation's vending industry unveiled the new health-oriented vending program with the support of the Clark County Steps program in April 2008, she added.

NAMA chairman Jim Brinton owns Evergreen Vending (Tukwila, WA). Evergreen was one of the companies instrumental in implementing the Fit Pick program in Clark County.

"We were delighted to work with Clark County to spearhead this effort," he said, "and are pleased that all of our hard work is being recognized nationally as an important contribution toward improving the health of consumers everywhere."

The NAMA Fit Pick program offers a choice of two sets of nutritional guidelines; each setup provides all the materials necessary to implement the chosen standard. These include stickers that can be placed in front of qualifying products; thin clings that explain the nutrition standard, coin-slot stickers and round stickers to help educate consumers; and a list of products that meet the specified nutrition standards.

Fit Pick is a development of NAMA's Balanced for Life initiative. NAMA communications director Jackie Clark, who serves as BFL team leader, and Cyndie Meyer, who had been appointed by Clark County to develop a standard of acceptability for vendible products, presented a report on the success of the program at last fall's NAMA National Expo (see VT, Nov. 2008).