By Mary O’KEEFE
At Tuesday’s Glendale City Council meeting councilmembers unanimously approved a resolution adopting a healthy snack and beverage policy for vending machines on city property.
Shea Eccleston made a presentation regarding the addition of healthier alternatives to the vending machines on city property. Glendale Healthier Community Coalition and the CHLAKids Healthy Kids, Healthy Lives Parent Collaborative asked the city to take a look at what was being offered in the vending machines and requested a healthier approach to the snacks and beverages.
Eccleston said there were about 50 beverage and snack vending machines on city property and their service contracts would be up in two years.
“We [now] have a healthy vending machine line that meets nutritional guidelines. About 40% of the products in the snack machines are healthy,” he said.
There are sodas in the machines but those are limited to 12 oz. cans.
Eccleston reported that, nationally, 17% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 and 34% of adults are obese. Locally though the numbers are lower.
“[California is] ranked 47 out of 51 states [including Washington, D.C.],” he added of obesity ranking.
The number of Glendale obese adults is lower than Burbank, but childhood obesity is higher, he added. This is a concern to the parents’ collaborative and is why the city examined how it could make the vending machine offerings healthier.
The parent collaborative conducted a survey of 400 Glendale residents about a new vending machine menu and a high percentage responded that they would not only welcome the healthier options but would purchase those as well.
Costs were an issue with Councilmember Zareh Sinanyan, who voiced his concern that the healthier option would be too costly and therefore unavailable to a section of the population that could not afford the increased prices.
Eccleston said he was aware of those costs and found that there were reasonably priced products that would be equal in cost to the less healthy versions. Councilmember Vartan Gharpetian added changing to healthier options in the vending machine will help but there is an underlining issue concerning obesity that must also be dealt with.
“We need to get to the bottom of the problem,” he said.
Dr. Paul Simon, a pediatrician and a representative from the Los Angeles County Public Health Dept., agreed with Gharpetian that there was not one single cause of obesity but praised the city for its healthy choice action.
“And we commend the parents [collaborative],” he said. He added how impressed he was with the parent collaborative and how dedicated they were in helping children.
The new snack guidelines will coincide with those that have been adopted by the California Dept. of Education. Some of the restrictions include that items will not have trans fats and that there will be no more than 35% of calories from fat, 10% of calories from saturated fat and 35% sugar by weight. Also 50% of the beverages sold in the machines must be water.
The City Council also unanimously voted to approve the Brand Park Lighting Improvement Project and awarded the job to Electro Construction Corp. The costs of the project comes to a total of $942,585 and will include the removal of 58 of the existing light poles and the installation of 106 new poles. This work is scheduled between May and September of this year.