Albuquerque city employees and visitors to city buildings and facilities will be able to more easily make healthy choices thanks to city officials adopting a resolution requiring nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold in vending machines on government property.
The adoption of the resolution, which has the effect of a city ordinance, was the result of health advocates working with city council members and the mayor to help them better understand the long-term benefits associated with healthier vending options, as well as to show the support that exists among city employees and residents for healthier options.
Advocates implemented a grassroots outreach program in which supporters of the healthy vending options were contacted at each step in the process and asked to reach out to city council members and the mayor urging their support for the resolution. They also circulated a public petition in support of the healthy vending changes, provided research showing the benefits of a healthy vending policy, and secured the support of employees and two champions on the city council who helped move the resolution through the council process.
One of the key factors that helped gain support for the resolution was its positive influence on the health of local residents and visitors from throughout New Mexico. Diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, stoke and cardiovascular disease, have a $324 million impact each year in New Mexico on health care costs.
The resolution was approved unanimously by the council and was enacted in August of 2016. It requires food and beverages sold in vending machines in city buildings and on city property to be consistent with standards developed by the General Services Administration. It not only applies to city buildings, but also parks and recreation facilities in Albuquerque.
The resolution also requires that calorie content be displayed on foods so purchasers have a better sense of what they are buying, that no foods can contain trans fat, and that all products contain less than 230 milligrams of sodium per serving.
“The American Heart Association supported improved access to healthier options through nutrition standards for foods and beverages in government facilities throughout Albuquerque because it will help make the healthy choice the easy choice by creating a healthier environment for government employees, visitors and participants in government programs,” says Poqueen Rivera, New Mexico government relations director for the American Heart Association.