Friday, January 29, 2010

Vending Program and Machines Get a New Look

Vending machines throughout Pasco County Schools are getting a new look! Recently, the Food and Nutrition Services Department received a grant from the Dairy Council of Florida to help launch the District’s new healthy vending program. The Food and Nutrition Services Department purchased 60 new vending machines for secondary schools. The vending machines will be installed the first week of February, and should be available for use the following week. This is just one of the District’s many approaches to provide healthier snacks and a healthier school environment for our students. Thirty of the new vending machines were purchased with assistance from the Dairy Council of Florida. These vending machines are refrigerated and will be easy to identify, sporting the dairy council’s classic “got milk” cow pattern. The other 30 Nutrition Zone vending machines will feature a new matrix-style design, highlighting healthy messages and images. Each middle and high school will be receiving a pair of the new vending machines. The machines will be located in areas where school meals are either sold or eaten. The Food & Nutrition Services Department is planning to stock the refrigerated cow-patterned vending machines with organic items; nutrition and sports bars; fresh fruit and vegetables; lowfat milk and dairy selections, such as yogurt and cheese sticks; fresh sandwiches; bagels with cream cheese; soymilk; bottled beverages and more. The Nutrition Zone vending machines allow students a more convenient and faster way to purchase healthy snack favorites, such as low fat and whole-grain chips, pretzels, and other non-refrigerated items. All vending and snack choices continue to meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation guidelines, which limits the portion sizes and establishes nutritional parameters. The guidelines recommend that snack and beverage choices provide less than 35% calories from fat, less than 10% calories from saturated fat, and no more than 35% sugar by weight. Calories per serving are limited by grade level. As a part of the District’s and the Food and Nutrition Services’ continued efforts to create healthier school environments, the new vending machine program supports the District’s Wellness Policy and Guidelines established by the District Wellness Committee. This is the second year of the tiered implementation schedule of the District’s Wellness Guidelines. Last year, schools were asked to meet the District’s established goal of having 50 percent of the foods and beverages available at any school-based event or activity to meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Guidelines; with a goal of 75 percent of food and beverages offered this year. As the District’s exclusive beverage provider, Coca-Cola agreed that all items provided in the Coca-Cola vending machines would also meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Guidelines. The District’s Wellness Policy and Guidelines are available on the District’s website home page. The District’s Wellness Committee was formed three years ago in compliance with the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act that required all school district’s throughout the United States to have an established district wellness policy and implementation guidelines. The committee consists of members from the community, parents, teachers, school and district administrators, registered dietitians, nurses, and other health professionals. The committee meets regularly and continues to work at establishing wellness policies, procedures, and guidelines that can assist schools in making changes to the school environment and culture. Each year, schools must assess its growth toward creating a healthier school environment and also assess its compliance with the District’s Wellness Policy.