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Vending machines could soon have healthier choices

Sweet snacks and sodas could be swapped for healthier offerings in vending machines located on public property.

Think nuts, legumes, cheese, vegetables, milk, juice and Pop Chips instead of candy bars, baked goods and sugar-laden sodas.

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The Glendale Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission agreed Monday that more low-calorie and low-sugar items should be stocked, but wanted more information on its options before finalizing a recommendation.

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The proposed change would apply only to the 50 vending machines at city parks, recreation facilities, City Hall and other public locations. The machines are owned and stocked by vendors, but regulated by the city, which receives a share of the revenue.

About 40% of a given vending machine's lineup is made up of healthier snacks and beverages.

"Our healthy vending policy for your consideration would apply to 100% of snacks, 100% beverages sold in vending machines," Public Works Manager Shea Eccleston-Banwer told commissioners. "And there would also be a requirement that 50% of beverages sold in vending machines must be water."

Glendale Adventist Medical Center pitched the city the idea, which is modeled after Glendale Unified's existing restrictions, Eccleston-Banwer said.

Proposed revisions include carrying snacks where no more than 35% of the calories come from fats, according to a staff report.

That could mean replacing fried potato chips with baked ones, Eccleston-Banwer said.

Fruit or vegetable drinks would need to be at least 50% real juice — with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. That includes sugary sports drinks.

Commissioner Grant Michals said the city should consider exceptions at places like the Glendale Sports Complex, where many athletes play and practice various sports and want to replenish with sports drinks like Gatorade.

"Is there a way we can provide a distinction, for example, the sports complex, where the issue of sports drinks might be more acceptable versus a vending machine at City Hall, where you aren't going to have athletic performance or play?" Michals said.

Community Services Director Jess Duran said his staff would return next month with a list of all 50 vending machines and their locations to help the commission make a decision.

The commission's recommendation would go to the City Council, which has final say.

Also to be brought back to commissioners is a report on how much healthier fare cut vending machine revenues at local schools.

In the past eight years, the city has garnered $100,000 from vending machines, about 40% of a commission it splits with vendors, Eccleston-Banwer said.

He added that its likely healthy snacks and beverages won't sell as well, meaning revenues would likely drop.

Commissioner Peter Fuad said that wouldn't matter to him.

"Personally, I'm less concerned about sales … I think healthy stuff trumps any fiscal distress or reduction," he said.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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