By Samantha R. Evensen
Lisa and Ed Aber, active members of the community, have been working with Helping Unite Mankind and Nutrition (HUMAN) to bring healthy vending options to the schools.
They saw the opportunity to be part of the solution in the ongoing battle against obesity, and being members of the PTSA board at Newsome, got the school eager to participate as well.
The goal: to make healthy food options more accessible if not more convenient than junk food.
As parents, Lisa and Ed want to encourage people to make healthier food choices, especially at a young age when lifestyle habits are forming.
Several schools within Hillsborough County and Clearwater now have healthy vending options.
By including each location in the product selection, they are able to accommodate individual needs per location.
All products are 200 calories or under. The snacks are high in protein, low in fat, and exclude or have a minimum amount of artificial preservatives, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose syrup, or MSG.
The HUMAN Corporation has a catalogue of pre-approved vending options.
Lisa Aber says, “In the beginning, it was sink or swim just to see what the kids liked and didn’t like.”
Snacks can include Luna bars, Pirates Booty, pop chips, different kinds of chocolate chip cookies, and cliff bars.
They also provide beverages such as muscle milk, vitamin water, SoBe water, Izzie, and other alternative fizzy drinks.
The product mix in the machines can range from 75 cents to a dollar and change. Healthy Vendors understand that young people don’t have the money to waste, so they attempt to keep their products to the dollar.
All the machines are credit and debit card readable maximizing the flexibility of payment options.
They are currently working on making a prepaid card for their machines that people can buy and then reload as needed.
These high performing and high-tech healthy vending machines are all equipped with remote monitoring. This means that when inventory is low, distributors will receive an alert to their computers. This saves unnecessary trips to restock the machines, promoting a greener vending experience.
HUMAN also contributes 10 percent of corporate proceeds to non-profit childhood obesity programs and nutrition education.
Schools that make these machines available to their students receive a percentage of gross sales as well.
For information about healthy vending options, please visit tampahealthyvending.com and visit Tampa Healthy Vending’s Facebook page.