A different take on the snack machine

Capital Roots healthy vending machine

The machine in the Arbor Hill/West Hill APL branch.

Check it out: Capital Roots is coordinating the roll out of new vending machines that offer healthier snack options.

The first two machines are Albany Public Library branches. The org introduced the program Tuesday at the Arbor Hill/West Hill branch of the Albany Public Library, which has one of the machines. The other is at the Howe Branch in the South End. A third machine is headed to the Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls on Hackett Boulevard.

Capital Roots is aiming to place as many as 50 of the machines at spots around the area as part of the program's first phase.

"Vending machines are these small, enclosed food outlets. And they really provide customers with limited to no information about the nutritional content of food. So people are making blind decisions," said Amy Klein, Capital Roots CEO, at the library Tuesday. "You might think you're making a good choice, and then it pops out [and you see the nutritional info] and this is maybe not so good."

So Capital Roots has been working with a trio of local vending companies -- Healthy Me Living, New Leaf Group, Delicious Healthy Vending -- to place machines with healthier options. And the machines -- some of which will be new, others repurposed -- will bear a Capital Roots beet logo to give people a heads up they offer something different.

Capital Roots healthy vending machine beet logo

"We're interested in leveling the playing field," Klein said, referencing the vending machine program and other Capital Roots initiatives such as the Veggie Mobile. "We're not interested in demanding or directing people about how they should eat, but about giving people the information so they can make healthy choices if they desire."

Capital Roots will be responsible for coordinating with venues such as workplaces and schools to site the machines, along with marketing them.

It's also involved in picking which items will be in the machines, following guidelines from the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.

"Basically, they're national guidelines for what constitutes a healthy snack," said Rebekah Desjardins, the healthy retail organizer for Capital Roots. "We try to find a middle ground, where you see a lot of traditionally vended snacks, but these are healthy alternatives. So we're not saying you can't have chips, but let's try apple chips instead."

Capital Roots healthy vending machine items

The items for sale in the Arbor Hill/West Hill APL branch Tuesday included pita chips, granola bars, pistachios, fig bars, bottled water, and cans of the carbonated fruit drink Izze.

Capital Roots is looking for locations to place machines and Klein said they'd welcome hearing from orgs that might like to get a machine. She said the vending companies have indicated they're willing to place a machine side by side with machines featuring a "regular" lineup of snack items.

While pita chips might be healthier than, say, potato chips, they're not an apple or some sort of fruit or vegetable. And given Capital Roots' work with the Veggie Mobile mobile green market and its Healthy Stores convenience store displays, we were curious if something like a vending machine for apples -- or bananas or carrots or whatever -- could be on the way.

"That's not an impossibility going down the road," Amy Klein said. "We're always looking to do different things and expand our offerings."

Comments

It may not change the world, but BRAVO for making a healthier choice available and convenient! Any School in the area should be on-board with this. It's like the calorie count on menus, it may not reduce obesity rates, but the information allows one to make an informed choice!

Kudos to them. The Veggie Mobile makes weekly stops near my work. Their approach of many-small-initiatives seems like a great way to get in front of a lot of people and start to bring about change!

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