Healthy IU working to offer healthier campus vending machine options

Oct. 2, 2014

It’s 1:45 p.m. on a Tuesday.

Lunch was just an hour and a half ago, but you’re still hungry and you’re not sure you can make it until dinner. With a handful of change, you make your way to the vending machine to find something to tide you over.

Although that Snickers bar might hold off your hunger until evening, it’s probably not the most nutritious choice.

Healthy IU logo

Healthy IU is hoping to provide employees with more healthy choices in campus vending machines and they are looking for feedback in choosing new snacks.

“We’re trying to make vending options healthier,” said Steven Lalevich, Healthy IU dietitian. “We don’t want to put things in the vending machine and they just sit there. We want to make sure they are healthy and people enjoy them and buy them.”

Healthy IU is hosting "Taste and Tell" events on all campuses throughout the year. IU Bloomington’s event will take place at the IU Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at Alumni Hall.

Each campus vendor will have samples of potential vending machine choices available for faculty and staff to taste. Participants can then indicate which option they like best and how much they would be willing to pay, and provide information such as where they work on campus, and how often they frequent a vending machine. 

Popular choices will be customized to each location. A stoplight system will also be placed in each vending machine with healthy items receiving a green designation and not so healthy items receiving a red designation.

The idea to replace vending items is one of the initiatives brought forth by the Healthy IU Steering Committee, a group formed in late 2013 by vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer MaryFrances McCourt. 

“One of the priorities of the committee was to promote healthier food options on campus,” said Jaclyn Braspenninx, Healthy IU manager. “This year we are just focusing on the vending options and beyond that there might be more changes. It’s an ongoing process to change the food landscape (at the university).”

While Healthy IU organizers are hoping to change the way some faculty and staff snack when using a vending machine, they are not looking to completely take away employee’s chocolaty treats.

“There will still be red options,” Lalevich said. “We expect the new healthy options to replace the worst-selling red options.”

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