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Healthier Vending in Public Buildings

October 28, 2014 by Sophia Baker-French, Registered Dietitian

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Close your eyes and imagine a typical vending machine. Do healthy food and beverages pop into your mind? Maybe not, but they can!

The Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in BC Public Buildings Policy sets standards for food and beverages in vending machines so healthy food and beverage choices are easy and convenient.Although this policy applies only to Public Buildings in BC, community groups or businesses can adopt it voluntarily to support their clients, employees and visitors make healthy choices where they live, learn, work and play.

The policy aligns with the Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools and uses nutrient criteria to score prepackaged food and drinks. Items are scored as “Sell Most”, “Sell Sometimes”, or “Do Not Sell”. Vending machines that follow the policy are stocked with:

  • at least 50% “Sell Most” items
  • up to 50% “Sell Sometimes” items
  • no “Do Not Sell” items

If this seems like a lot of information to digest, don’t worry…There are user-friendly resources available here to help, including:

  1. The Brand Name Food List – an online tool that allows you to search for and identify food and beverages that meet the nutrition standards
  2. A Policy At-A-Glance guide
  3. A factsheet on stocking vending machines with healthier items

Health authorities around the province are working to bring the policy into full effect in BC health care facilities. This will give healthcare staff and folks visiting facilities the option to choose healthy snacks or drinks when grabbing something from a vending machine. The policy doesn’t apply to patient and residential food and beverage services.

Have a question about the policy? Click here to email the Ministry of Health (Healthier.Choices@gov.bc.ca). Need help in understanding or implementing this policy? Connect directly with a HealthLink BC Registered Dietitian by dialing 8-1-1, or email.


Related Blogs

Avoiding the Vending Machine Slump

Recommended Resources
Ministry of Health: Healthier Choices in Vending Machines
HealthLink BC: Food Guidelines
HealthLink BC: Brand Name Food List

photo credit: www.gettyimages.ca
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