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Healthy Food and Vending Machines: An Unlikely Partner

Raise your hand if you believe in individual responsibility. I do! Raise your hand if you’d like to see vending machines filled with soda, chips, candy and other junk food removed from your child’s schools! Me too! We know Jamie Oliver (of ABC’s Food Revolution) is with us!

I’ve been all for getting rid of those vending machines until I read about these swanky baby carrots dressed in a Cheetos style package that are comin’ on the scene. I’ve got to say that they’ve made me re-think the possibilities. If we tweak our perspective just a bit, think inside the box, and look at it from another angle we might just come up with a better solution.

What if we leave the vending machines in the school but fill them with healthy choices?

Remember, we vote with our dollars. We’re already subsidizing the junk food that we’re making available to our kids, let’s try something different! Let’s support creative companies that want to pimp healthier alternatives that will grow healthier, happier kids! Let’s invest in their temple!

It looks like carrots are goin’ cool

A new marketing campaign to get kids to make healthy choices (or to sell more carrots…whatever, I’ll take it!) is on it’s way to school vending machines and stores. Baby carrots are being re-branded to bring forth kid appeal.

Let’s try something different; Let’s change the packaging

The question is, will kids make healthy choices based on packaging? Cheetos or carrots? The bag looks similar, they’re both even orange, but is that enough to talk kids and parents into making a healthy choice? One study says “yes.” Their study shows that, according to 4-6 year old’s “food tastes better from cartooned packages.” I’m willing to bet this is the case.

When I asked my 8 year old son to look at the picture above he was very enthusiastic and immediately got to work deciding which package of carrots he wanted to try first. My 5 year old daughter has a very limited palate right now, but eats carrots by the bushel. She doesn’t need fancy branding but once she starts eating lunch at school and sees the other choices out there, her idea’s may change.

Of course I’d rather see parents buy a large bag of carrots and dole them out in reusable bags or containers but that isn’t always realistic. In our fast paced society, we as a nation, have come to rely on “convenience foods.” If we can make healthy foods convenient, fun and available I’m all for it!

Let’s take another look at those vending machines

Maybe our approach to vending machines needs to change. Let’s fill vending machines with pre-packaged carrots and apples that make our kids grow strong but feel cool. Throw in some whole grain crackers, granola bars, beef jerky, cheese sticks and maybe even a hard boiled egg and milk and you’ve got a vending machine that I might even use!

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