Glendale to stock all vending machines at parks and other facilities with healthful snacks

After a vote by the Glendale City Council, all the vending machines at parks and other city properties will be fully stocked with healthful snacks and drinks.

A 5-0 vote will result in chips and sodas being replaced by nuts, fruits and veggies.

The city makes about $500,000 a year from vending machines at parks and spots such as the Pacific Community Center, and staffers acknowledge that revenue could fall by as much as 40% because of healthier offerings.

But Councilwoman Paula Devine said it would be worth it.

"I don't think we have to be worried about revenue when it comes to the health of our children," she said.

Existing vending-machine policy states that at least 40% of stocked items must be healthful snacks or beverages, but the revision would require all products to be healthful.

There are other restrictions. Snacks can't be more than 250 calories, and at least half of all beverages must be water, according to a city staff report.

Other permissible drinks will be 100% fruit or vegetable juices or fruit and vegetable juices combined with water, the report states. Sodas, diet sodas and sports drinks will not be allowed.

The changes probably won't occur until the current vendor contract expires in two years.

Anahita Vartanian, a mother who's a member of the organization Healthy Kids, Healthy Lives, said the availability of healthier options has been too limited.

The group recently surveyed 376 Glendale residents, and 94% said they would support buying healthier items, she said.

"I want my children to grow up and be healthy and be productive members of the community," Vartanian said.

The only concern Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said he had was whether healthier snacks and drinks tend to cost more than salty and sugary products.

"If we're creating vending machines that are inaccessible to a large portion of our population, that's worrisome," he said.

Shea Eccleston-Banwer, the city's public works manager, said the vendor — Red Carpet Vending — does carry more "exotic" healthful items that are more expensive. But there would be a range of prices, he said, adding that existing healthful items cost about the same as chips, candy and soda.

Eccleston-Banwer noted that the childhood obesity rate in Los Angeles County is 22.4%. He added that Glendale's updated policy is similar to Pasadena's.

arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

Mikailian writes for Times Community News.

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A version of this article appeared in print on April 02, 2016, in the News section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Healthier fare for the money - Glendale votes to stock all vending machines at parks with healthful snacks." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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