Tinley Park wants healthy fare in vending machines
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org August 22, 2012 4:44PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 7:43AM
The village of Tinley Park, hoping to lead by example, soon will begin offering healthy options in vending machines at the village hall, police and fire stations, and other village-owned buildings.
Traditional vending favorites such as potato chips, soft drinks and candy bars will be joined by apples, oranges, low-fat milk and other healthy choices.
The board voted 5 to 0 in favor of a first reading of a policy that requires making healthy options available in vending machines at village-owned buildings. It’s hoped, officials said, that businesses will follow the village’s lead.
“We can’t dictate other vending machines,” Trustee Greg Hannon said, “but we’re hoping there’s a trickle-down effect.”
Hannon said the policy is more about offering options than limiting choice.
“You can still have Fritos,” Hannon said, “but instead of having Snickers and Doritos and whatever else we like to throw down, we’ll have an apple, an orange, a banana, some granola, healthy food as an option to all the good stuff we like to eat.”
Hannon, who has been told by his doctor that he needs to shed some weight, said jokingly that he “probably shouldn’t be the one heading this committee, but obesity is a problem in the United States. It starts with kids. If we can have some kind of impact in the village, it’s good.”
The village has had a wellness plan in place for several years, urging employees to walk and take better care of themselves. This is another part of that program, Trustee Dave Seaman said.
“It’s about leading by example,” he said.
Under the proposal, 50 percent of beverages ad 30 percent of food offered in vending machines must meet healthy criteria based on factors such as calories and fat content, Hannon said.
Seaman said he realizes the village can’t force businesses to suddenly switch out Snickers bars for fresh strawberries, but he nevertheless hopes for change.
“It’s about adopting a different lifestyle. That’s the hard part,” Seaman said.
Tom Mahoney, who chairs Mayor Ed Zabrocki’s advisory panel on wellness, said the vending machine policy is about “increasing options and choices.”
“Although the policies before you tonight offer healthier choices for the village employees, the panel hopes these actions provide stimulus for conversations about wellness throughout the entire community and these policies offer themselves as a template for businesses and other governmental bodies to use, too.” Mahoney said.
“We’re not taking things away,” Zabrocki said. “We’re adding options, healthy options.”