Visitors to Chicago’s public parks have some new snack options. They are happy with the new, healthier choices. In 2011, the park vending machines started having only healthy snacks, instead of “junk” food. People are now spending more money at the vending machines than ever before. It shows that park visitors like to buy granola bars more than candy bars.
The Chicago Parks Department’s new nutrition rules for vending machine snacks set limits on fat and sugar. The rules also call for smaller portion sizes. In addition, the machines have to have some items with no peanuts or gluten for people with food allergies.
About 200,000 children go to after-school and summer programs at Chicago parks every year. The parks department hopes that having only healthy snacks will help prevent kids from becoming obese, or overweight. Chicago’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities group supports the new vending machine program. The group believes that parks should encourage exercise and healthy eating.
Because of the healthy snack program’s success, the parks now have healthier beverages, too. Visitors can find more bottled waters and 100-percent juices in drink machines, instead of soda. One park worker says that the healthy snacks and drinks must be popular. Workers are having a hard time keeping the vending machines full.