GO Snacks – Healthy Vending


All Houstonians deserve the opportunity to make healthy choices at work. Providing healthy options in the workplace is one small way employers can encourage healthy behaviors. Healthy vending strategies are an emerging approach to healthy food procurement and are recommended by leading health institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

– 6% of surveyed adults in the Houston Metropolitan Service Area are overweight or obese

Obesity-related illnesses cost an estimated $190.2 billion each year nationwide

– $4.3 billion in loss to businesses annually due to obesity-related job absenteeism

Per person, health care spending of obese adults is 56% higher than for normal-weight adults

Soda and sugar‐sweetened beverages are the #1 source of calories and added sugars for adults in the United States, with desserts, such as pastries, cookies, and other baked goods, the second‐largest source

Candy (32%), chips (24%)  and sweet baked goods (15%) are 80% of available foods in public vending machines


Nutrition Criteria Options

American Heart Association


Calorie Limits Sodium Limits Saturated Fat Limits
Snacks, single item foods:
<200 calories/serving Entrees:
<500 calories/ servingMeals:

<750 calories/ serving
Snacks, single item foods:
<230 mg/servingEntrees:
<480 mg/ servingMeals:
<600 mg/ serving

<10% saturated fats/ serving

Trans Fat Limit: 0 grams

At least 50% of beverages offered should be water and low or no calorie options. 

Sparkling, seltzer, flavored water
No or Low Calorie Beverages
≤ 10 kcal/ 8 oz. serving
Mid-calorie beverages
≤ 66 calories/ 8 oz. serving
Regular and herbal unsweetened teas
100% fruit juice:
≤ 180 kcal/ 12 oz.

With no added sweeteners
Fat-free or low-fat
If flavored, ≤ 150 calories/ 8 oz.
With ≤ 1% fat milk or creamers

National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA)


Healthy Snack:

•≤ 200 calories
•≤ 35% calories from fat
(except for nuts or seeds)
•≤ 10% calories from saturated fat
•≤  0% trans fat
•≤ 35% total sugar, 10 g maximum (except for fruits and vegetables)
•≤ 200 mg sodium
+ Nutrient Density 

At least one of:
•1/4 Cup  fruit or non-fried vegetables
•1/4 cup fat free or low-fat dairy
•1 oz nut or seeds
•1 Tbsp nut butter
•50% whole grains
•10% of naturally occurring: Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin D, or Fiber

Healthy Beverage: 

•100% fruit or vegetable juice
•≤12 oz. and ≤200 mg sodium
•Low calorie beverage ≤40 calories per container
•Fat free or 1% fat and ≤200 calories


Implementation and Compliance

Steps to Implementation


I. Planning
– Conduct an initial review of current vending machines

– Develop realistic goals, and engage the leadership of the organization

II. Establishment of Nutrition Guidelines
– Choose nutrition standards with established product list (easier to implement)

III. Action Steps
– Create a work plan with a time line and assign staff for each task

– Create a vending contract with clear language of nutrition guidelines, price, marketing, compliance and consequences for breach of contract

 IV. Promotion
– Follow the concepts of the 4Ps of Marketing

        i. Product that are healthy and appealing to employees
        ii. Placement of healthy foods at eye level locations within machine
        iii. Price strategies to inform employees and encourage them to select these foods
        iv. Promotion of healthy items on machine wraps. Prohibit promotion of ‘traditional’ products

– Promotion efforts should be a combination of marketing and education to build awareness, and encourage the behavior of choosing healthy options

V. Monitoring
– Conduct continuous monitoring of vendors to ensure the amount, type and placement of healthy products are being offered

VI. Making it Stick
– Formal policy adoption at your worksite. Expansion to other healthy food procurement strategies.


Practical Application

  • – Determine the status, expiration and renewal period of all current vending contracts
  • – Alert current vendors about interest or shift towards healthy vending options
  • – CLEARLY define the terms for healthy requirement during selection and in the contract
  • – CLEARLY define the terms for competitive pricing and marketing during selection and contract
  • – Provide supporting tools such as a planogram or a checklist during selection & implementation
  • – Provide high weight to ability to immediately adopt standards in during selection process
  • – Clearly define enforcement terms and breach of contract consequences
  • – Include terms for monthly sales reporting, revenue audits for monitoring purposes
  • – Include language for a modifiable agreement to allow for flexibility and future adjustments





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