Make sure you’ve performed an audit of your vending machine before you make any changes so that you can evaluate those changes.
Here are some ideas for action:
Review Existing Contracts/Create a New Contract
You’ll need to review your existing contracts to determine when you can start applying provincial or territorial nutrient guidelines for vending that are specific to your region. You can point to this resource called Stocking Vending Machines with Healthier PrePackaged Food and Beverages to help support your discussions with vending contractors. Keep in mind the following steps:
- Inform the vendor of any provincial or territorial nutrient guidelines for vending machines and discuss the timeline for achieving compliance.
- Work within the terms of the existing contract to modify the items sold in the vending machines as soon as possible.
- When renewing the contract, be sure to comply with your provincial or territorial nutrient guidelines for vending.
If you don’t have a current contract, review the information below to create a new contract .
Make sure the criteria in your Request for Proposal (RFP) for vending includes:
- Specifications regarding the minimum and maximum percentage of Sell Most, Sell Sometimes and Do Not Sell products to be stocked in the machines;
- Percentage specifications apply to each machine. (e.g. 70% Sell Most or Sell Sometimes could mean that a vendor stocks one machine with water and fills the rest of the machines with chocolate bars and candy, while still complying with the 70%/30% specifications);
- Advertising that promotes healthy products and activities;
- Lower prices for healthy choices;
- Healthy Choices items positioned most prominently (e.g. place Sell Most items at eye level);
- A variety of products, specify if each slot needs to have a different product offering (e.g. some facilities have noticed that there will only be one or two healthy options being offered and a large variety of Do Not Sell products, but because the healthy options fill the majority of the machine they still meet the requirements);
- Consistent re-stocking of healthy products;
- Approval by recreation staff of any new food or beverage to ensure they meet the nutrient guidelines for vending for your region; and
- Consistent product labelling (e.g. a checkmark system in which one checkmark means “Sell Sometimes,” two checkmarks means “Sell Most,” etc.).
- See sample RFPs in the Resources section.
Once you have a Healthy Choices vending contract in place:
- Install refrigerated vending machines to serve perishable items such as milk.
- Monitor prices to ensure they are affordable, encouraging sales and minimizing wasted food.
- Learn about products that are packaged to last without the use of unhealthy chemicals (e.g. modified atmosphere packaging).
- Prominently display educational and Healthy Choices promotional materials.
- Ask produce suppliers for marketing materials to support your healthier products.
- Be sure to use the “Stay Active Eat Healthy” promotional materials.
Tips from facility staff
- Timing is key
- Introduce new products at the beginning of the season (e.g. make changes at an arena at the beginning of the hockey season, not halfway through).
- Timing new vending or concession contracts with new policies on healthy eating can make the transition smoother.
- Always have an open door policy with new healthy food manufacturers
- It can be difficult to source healthy options so having an open door policy and giving everyone a chance to showcase their product makes the job easier.
- Price Sell Most and Sell Sometimes foods below the Do Not Sell foods. In general, vending and concession make a larger profit from Do Not Sell food so selling Sell Most and Sell Sometimes foods like fresh fruit at cost or just above cost doesn’t make a big difference to your profit margin but it does offer more choice to patrons.
- Think of subsidizing Sell Most and Sell Sometimes foods by increasing the cost of Do Not Sell foods.
- Market the healthy options
- Conduct taste tests of new products with staff and patrons before making the switch to ensure you have products that taste good and meet the requirements of your clientele.
- Display healthier options in prominent positions in the vending machines or concessions.