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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wants Healthier Vending Menus In City Buildings

Posted On: 11/16/2012

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TAGS: vending, vending machine, Vending Times, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago healthy vending, vending machine restriction, Chicago vending menu guidelines, Carla Balakgie, National Automatic Merchandising Association, vending industry, Balance for Life, Fit Pick, informed vending food choices, Chicago Public Schools Board, Chicago school snack restrictions

CHICAGO -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to see healthier fare in vending machines in city buildings and hopes to have new regulations in place by January.

The mayor's proposed ordinance detailing guidelines on fat, sugar and calorie content was set to be introduced to the city council this week. The guidelines would mandate that only 25% of cold beverages and all hot drinks cannot contain more than 25 calories per 8 fl.oz. All vended drinks would be limited to 12 fl.oz.

At least 75% of snacks could contain no more than 250 calories, and at least five items in each vending machine would contain no more than 250mg. of sodium per serving. Gluten- and nut-free options would also have to be available.

"Healthy" foods couldn't cost more than other items in the machine under the proposal. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect in January.

"We applaud Mayor Emanuel and the city of Chicago in promoting informed choices in the area of health and wellness," said Carla Balakgie, president and chief executive of the National Automatic Merchandising Association. She emphasized that since 2005, the vending industry has helped businesses and governments with nutrition solutions through its Balance for Life and Fit Pick programs, which provide consumers with information they need to make informed food choices.

The announcement came the same day that the Chicago Public Schools Board unanimously approved a new healthy snack and beverage policy that bans soda, sports and energy drinks and whole milk during school hours.

Meanwhile, Emanuel has big plans for vending in the city in spite of his healthy crackdown. The mayor announced a plan last fall to sell advertising space on vending machines at city facilities as part of his 2012 budget plan to raise $25 million from marketing the city. No further announcements have been made about that proposal. | SEE STORY