Best Practices

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH and her team recently conducted an evaluation of healthy vending policies and initiatives affecting youth in four cities.

  • Chicago Parks District in Chicago, Illinois
  • Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Springdale, Arkansas.

Vending machines are a common source for low nutrient, energy-dense snacks and beverages. Consequently, youth can easily access vending machines at many public spaces such as parks, recreation centers, and swimming pools. Increasing the availability of healthier options in vending machines is one way to influence healthier snacking behaviors. Furthermore, it is aligned with the CDC recommendation for communities to make healthier food and beverage options more readily available in public venues.

Many cities are beginning to adopt healthy vending policies in public areas, but more could be done to develop, implement, and evaluate these healthy vending polices is limited.


The Design

This study used a mixed-methods, multiple-case study design and included semi-structured interviews with multiple stakeholders from each city. The site visits at each city included surveys with adults using the vending machines and observations of the available products in vending machines. In addition to a review of documents, including nutrition standards, policies, requests for proposals (RFPs), vending contracts, sales data, and any existing evaluation tools were collected from each site.

The research findings are summarized in this report. It describes the major similarities and differences across four cites/counties who chose healthy vending practices. The report emphasizes what works and what doesn’t when developing, executing, and evaluating healthy vending policies and initiatives.

This research was supported by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

 Evaluating Healthy Vending Policies for Youth in Four Cities

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH; Julie Bromberg, MHS; Yasaman Mirafzali; Sarah Green, MPH