Recognizing that the health of our nation’s military personnel is important to national security, military officials think it’s time for a health upgrade in the vending machines that service men and women patronize while on duty. The military has long served as a role model for health and wellness for society at large, so the renewed interest in healthy vending marks a positive development.
Our vending company applauds the military’s efforts to improve the health of our service men and women. We stand ready to assist the military in these efforts.
There are several initiatives the military is exploring to improve healthy options in military locations.
Captain Kimberly Elenberg, director of the U.S. Public Health Service’s medical readiness and training program, said she wants to see healthier choices available, both in vending machines and in foodservice operations on military bases. The average soldier only eats one serving of fruit or vegetables every three to six weeks, Elenberg said.
Twenty two percent of the service members and their families are obese. This number sounds okay when you consider 34 percent of the overall U.S. population is obese, but there’ still work to be done.
Elenberg, speaking at the annual U.S. Army conference, said her program is reconsidering its contracting practices for onsite vending and foodservice, according to military.com.
The move to improve nutritious options on military bases is also part of the U.S. Defense Department’s Healthy Base Initiative. This is a study to examine the habits and health of service members and their families at 14 military bases worldwide. The study measures service personnel’s access to healthy food.
The military is also taking a closer look at the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Fit Pick program, according to Amy Cowell, a public health associate at the Army Public Health Command. Existing military vending rules only require 15 percent of the options be healthy. The NAMA Fit Pick program has stricter health requirements.
NAMA’s Fit Pick program, unveiled in 2008, is designed to educate consumers about products in vending machines that meet specific nutrition standards. The program includes stickers placed in front of qualifying products, clings that explain the nutrition standard, coin slot stickers and round stickers to help educate consumers. The program has been very successful among institutions and businesses nationwide.
In addition to improving the healthy options in vending machines, military officials want to make immediate changes to meal options on bases, such as asking restaurants to display calorie counts on menus.
As important as all these initiatives are to the wellbeing of service personnel, the vending and foodservice operations on military bases need to be provided in a financially sustainable manner. The military needs sustainable services that align with its health priorities. Professional vending and foodservice companies provide these services.
For more information about healthy snack and beverage options available to the vending industry in San Jose, San Francisco Bay Area and East Bay, contact your vending partner, PVS Refreshments at 844.527.4800 to discuss your customized break room needs.