Arlington Deploys Healthier Vending Machines

by ARLnow.com March 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm 1,822 71 Comments

New "FitArlington" vending machines(Updated at 3:00 p.m.) Arlington County is working with a vendor to install vending machines with healthier options in county offices.

The new vending machines are part of the county’s FitArlington initiative. At first, about half of the contents of the vending machines will contain healthier snack options that are lower in calories, fat and sugar.

One such snack machine includes options like baked potato chips, Clif bars, Nutrigrain bars, Sun Chips, 100 calorie sweet packs and other options. Drink machines will offer low-fat milk, low-calorie teas and bottled water — although the county is discouraging people from buying the latter.

“Our FitArlington Healthy Vending machines will have water but remember that it’s better for the environment to bring your own bottle and fill it up at a nearby drinking fountain,” the county said in a press release (after the jump).

The vending machines will first be deployed to county office buildings  then are expected to be installed in community centers and parks starting in August. (Long Bridge Park, which was in need of vending machines, got an early installation.)

The machines are provided by a vendor at no cost to the county, according to spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

Arlington County is installing vending machines in its County offices that will supply staff with healthier snack options.  Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada kicked off the effort at a Healthy Vending Tasting event at Court House Plaza today.

“Arlington County is committed to promoting a Culture of Fitness to community and staff. Two years ago we installed healthy vending machines in some of our community centers.  Now we are providing healthy vending options in Court House Plaza and other County office buildings,” said Chairman Tejada.

The plan is to start with having about 50% of the snacks in these machines meet the County’s guidelines for healthy vending.  It is expected that in time staff will come to prefer the healthier options and the County will gradually increase the amount of healthy food offered. “Our goal is for all our FitArlington machines to meet 100% of the County’s guidelines for healthy vending,” said Chairman Tejada.

So what’s healthy vending?  In 2010, Arlington County developed guidelines to improve the quality of foods in its vending machines.  Arlington is one of the first communities on the East Coast that did this. At the time, in fact, it was very difficult to find a vending machine company that would meet the County’s requirements and the County worked with a vending company in California. Now, one of the largest vending companies in the area, Canteen, can support the effort. Vending machines that meet the County’s guideline include:

  • No more than 250 calories per item
  • No more than 35% calories from fat, and no more than 10% from saturated fat
  • No trans fats added during processing  and only two or less grams of naturally occurring trans fats
  • No more than 35% of the total weight of a snack can come from sugar and caloric sweeteners with the exception of fruits and vegetables.
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • At least of 75% of the snack choices in each machine will have 150 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.
  • And at least 75% of the snack choices will have two grams or more of fiber per serving
  • And for beverages, we’ll offer healthier choices such as water, low-fat milk, 100% fruit /vegetable juices and low-calorie teas utilizing natural sugars as sweetener. Our FitArlington Healthy Vending machines will have water but remember that it’s better for the environment to bring your own bottle and fill it up at a nearby drinking fountain.

In August, Arlington County will begin updating vending machines in community centers and parks. Community machines will be 100% healthy vending because children have access to the community machines and may not have the information or training to choose healthy foods over sugary snacks.  As such, all their options will be healthy.  Long Bridge Park is our first community facility with FitArlington Healthy Vending machine.

Providing access to healthy snacks is just one of ways Arlington County tries to support healthy lifestyles among staff. The insurance programs the County offers employees provide additional support to help improve health and prevent disease. From nutritional counseling, online health assessments and preventive screenings, the County provides staff with the information to stay healthy and strong.

Arlington also offers a number of great programs through Health Smart, the employee health and wellness program.  There are convenient exercise classes and fitness centers for employees throughout the County.  In 2012 the County added the Health Smart Wellness Clinic in Court House Plaza with a monthly mobile clinic at the Trades Center.

“I’d like Arlington County to be a model employer for supporting employee health and fitness,” said Chairman Tejada.  “In fact, these great new healthy vending machines are available to private employers as well. Hopefully in time, people will recognize the FitArlington logo on machines and know there will be healthy options inside.”

  • novasteve

    First the left asks you not to do something they don’t approve of, then they start taxing, then banning the things they don’t approve of. So for county employees it’s just the beginning, it will expand. But since they think nthey are doing it for everyone’s own good, there will no be respite from the control freakery.

    • Captain_Obvious

      I see your “Ctrl + v” skills have not faded…

    • not_you

      …the county employees get screwed by the left and the right… the left wants to tell them what to eat and the right doesn’t want to pay them.

    • OX4

      Steve, shall I list here all the things “the right” has banned because it doesn’t approve of them?

      • novasteve

        I don’t deny they unfortunately do that as well, but not nearly as much, nor does it affect as many people.

        • Josh S


    • kramer

      boring and repetitive.

  • Old Fart

    Dadgum hippies.

  • Captain_Obvious

    I plan on buying all the water bottles out of these machines and providing them to everyone at the next county board meeting. How’s that for a crusade ?

    • south arlington

      Correct me if I am wrong but I thought we were trying to get people to not buy drinks in plastic bottles ….Where is Jay Fisette …come and true double standard…..

      • flux

        The article says that the county is discouraging people from buying the bottled water. Although I question the veracity of that statement. Is that a county policy, or just one board member’s agenda?

        • southarlington

          One county board members agenda ……and that would be Jay Fisette…

      • acdc hack

        Wait a minute……you want to hold him accountable for his p.r. posturing ??

        Now that is a low blow !!!

        • southarlington

          Yes why not we know he is against plastic bottles …so what is wrong with holding him accountable the board members need to be held accountable for somethings ….is that right ?

          • acdc hack

            I was kidding……

          • southarlington

            I figured as much ….;;;;)))))

    • grump

      pointless waste of your money

  • Arlington Chris

    Here’s a thought. If you want to eat healthy, maybe you shouldn’t use a vending machine at all?

    What is wrong with just eating a good lunch and bringing some fruit to work?

    • Jake

      False choice fail.

    • Shirlington Foodista

      They actually had a nutritionist on hand today during the unveiling for employees who made some healthy snack options for you to try and handed out the recipes and ideas to take home.

  • igotaname

    Good thing we have a 24 hour CVS across the street…too bad that wastes more time than it would walking down the hall.

  • jjj

    great move – I would argue the “healthiness” of some of those items but it’s still a step in the right direction.

    • leslie

      i agree … not that healthy but a good start at least in terms of calorie count if nothing else.

  • novasteve

    SEriously, why the hell do they sweeten any tea? It tastes so good unsweetened. I wish I lived closer to Wegmans to get their bottled unsweetened teas. If I had more ice making capabiliites I’d make it myself. But stuff like ITO EN tea, or the Wegman’s version, unsweetened, is GREAT.

    • Arlington Chris

      This is America. We sweeten everything!

      • bubba

        Could you please put some lard in that? it just don’t taste right.

    • Jim

      If I had more ice making capabiliites

      Steve, I’d be happy to email you an excellent recipe for making ice.

      • novasteve

        If your recipe includes a way to make my freezer larger, then please go ahead.

        • Kramer

          Grow up. Get a real job. Buy a house. Buy a large freezer. I doubt you can accomplish steps 1-3.

    • Pinktulip32

      I don’t like sweet tea either. I take Lipton “Cold Brew” tea bags to work. Just put one in your container and fill it up with cold water. Works great.

      • novasteve

        Unfortunately every time I have seen that stuff it’s always flavored. Like “mixed berries”. I just like iced green tea or oolong tea. I can live with iced black tea, but they always have flavors in it if it’s not sweetened.

        • Pinktulip32

          The Lipton Cold Brew only comes in plain black tea; no flavors, at least that I have seen. Twinings makes a plain black and also plain green tea cold brew. They also make those berry flavors you mentioned. I don’t care much for them either.

          • novasteve

            Thanks. I’ll check it out. All I had seen in the past was the twining mixed berries which I tried and hated.

  • novasteve

    Maybe the county can ban people who aren’t handicapped from using the elevators so they must take the stairs too?

  • squidgod

    This is great news…

    …for CVS.

    • novasteve

      Maybe someone should start a beverage truck?

      • bobbytiger

        . . . . and, park it next to the new doughnut truck, “using farm fresh ingredients”.

    • Hoverround Crossing

      That’s a Win-Win. The fatties will have to walk to CVS for their daily injection of fructose, forcing them to engage in dreaded exercise.

  • Chris

    This might be as successful as Artisphere.

  • Katie

    Why do we need new machines for this? Can’t healthier food be sold out of the old machines?

    • Candy

      The vending company covers this cost. Small price to pay for the concession – we’ll silkcreen your logo of choice on our machine, provide the machine, maintain and restock it, and we keep 50% of the revenues.

  • HealthyHeart

    Are these the same machines/vendors that are already deployed in the rec centers?

  • Pinktulip32

    Whatever happened to bringing your lunch and snacks to work? It’s not that hard. You just have to set aside a little time each week. That way your are not stuck in the office hungry and prowling the vending machines in the first place.

    • Heath

      I did not know a person can bring their own food to work. Thank you for bringing this eye-opening information to everyone’s attention.

    • novasteve

      When I was a kid I wanted to work for NASA because I saw teh vending machines at Goddard Space Flight center. They were so amazing. THey had everything food related imagineable in them. You could even get soup from a vending machine back then. Anyone remember the vending machines on the NJ Turnpike? I used to get smoking monkeys all the time.

      • Arlington Chris

        What are smoking monkeys? Just curious.

        • novasteve

          They are little plastic monkeys that come with little cigarettes that you light and the monkey smokes them, and blows smoke rings.


          The vending machine also had all sorts of magic tricks in them.

          • Arlington Chris

            Thanks — that was interesting. Different times then I, I guess.

          • OX4

            That’s crazy! I don’t know what surprises me more: the total waste of a cigarette, or that you’d give these to your kid to play with! Different times, indeed.

          • novasteve

            It doesn’t use real cigarettes. They were just rolled up pieces of paper pretty much.

      • Wide Stance

        I’m pretty sure you can get arrested “smoking monkies” at NJ Turnpike rest stops.

      • Grump

        What is a smoking monkey?

      • Pinktulip32

        What are smoking monkeys?

      • spamhamwich

        A girl in my high school would give out smoking monkeys for free behind the bleachers…

      • Foot Tapper

        Steve, I’d prefer not to hear about your experience “smoking monkeys” at NJ Turnpike rest stops.

      • OX4

        OMG I used to love Smoking Monkeys. I liked their earlier stuff better, because once they became popular they sort of sold out.

  • acdc hack

    “Healthy vending machine” = oxymoron

    • Grump

      Doesn’t have to be…

      • acdc hack

        “Doesn’t have to be…”
        Maybe so but 99 % of the time it is……..

        • novasteve

          Then lets get japanese vending machines. You can get unsweetened green tea out of them, as well as sex toys.

          • kramer

            wha? you heard about that because we know the extent of your travels was a single trip to Europe when you were in college. How sad.

          • novasteve

            I don’t think you know as much about me as you think you know, given I’ve been to europe 20+ times, used to live there, and spent 2 weeks in Japan. Oh wait, suddenly I’m all sophisticated now, right?

  • John Fontain

    “Community machines will be 100% healthy vending because children have
    access to the community machines and may not have the information or
    training to choose healthy foods over sugary snacks. As such, all their
    options will be healthy.”

    I sure am glad I was a kid a long time ago. Imagine not being able to have a damn candy bar as a kid.

    many adults/parents are over-the-top-nutcases about food these days. A
    family friend of ours won’t let her kids eat anything “unhealthy.” She
    makes her kids eat “seaweed chips” for a snack – even when they are
    visiting us and we’re offering regular snacks. Come on people, don’t
    you remember what it was like to be a kid and just want some Cheetos
    every once in a while?

    I’m convinced that a lot of these
    food-restricted kids are going to end up like kids forced to attend
    Catholic school, but instead of becoming sex freaks upon graduation
    they’ll become junk-food junkies.

    Did I manage to offend anyone with this post?

    • southarlington

      I was going to say that because when I was young I was not allowed to drink soda so of course when I was out with my friends or at a their house I would try it ….remember if you do not allow stuff people want to know what the big fuss is about and they eventaully will try it ……

    • Grump

      But you don’t have to make it available. People eat junk because that is what is sold in the machines. Put something healthy in and maybe they will buy it. When you are hungry, you are hungry.

    • SHLady

      As a product of Catholic schools, I would like to say that I was a sex freak long before I graduated.
      About the candy bars, kids today eat insane amounts of candy. I have no issue with making candy a little more inconvenient to buy.

  • Phoenix

    I am looking at the new machines and see only diet soda and a diet tea, some flavored water to. I am sure all of these have artificial sweeteners, yet bullet number five says no artificial sweeteners. Am I missing something. I like milk… How about some milk. Diet soda is no better for you then regular and it still rots your teeth. Fail???

  • OX4

    MMMM how about those healthy Nutri-grain bars!


    Just like Mom used to make!

    • John Fontain

      I love me a big bowl of methylcellulose. Yum!

    • kramer

      Red 40 is a commie plot.

  • This is good because the rate of obesity is increasing due to people living sedentary lifestyles. I know it isn’t much but at least the government is doing something to counter the growing cases of cardiovascular diseases. – http://www.selectivend.com/


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