City of St. Petersburg Announces Healthy Vending Policies
St. Petersburg, FL – Through a partnership with the American Heart Association, the City of St. Petersburg has announced a progressive approach to improving the city’s food environment through procurement guidelines designed to drive healthier eating habits. The administrative policy signed by Mayor Rick Kriseman requires that by the end of 2017, all food and beverage vending machines on city-owned property comply with the American Heart Association’s guidelines for vending. This stance on better vending selections is unprecedented in the state of Florida, and the announcement positions the city as a national leader in promoting healthy choices, joining only 10 other cities to have an active healthy vending policy.
The vending policy is part of the city’s Healthy St. Pete initiative: an effort to improve the overall health outcomes of the community. Pinellas County is currently above national and state averages for the number of adults living with cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, people tend to eat what is easily available. Accessibility to healthy food and beverages in public places makes it easier for residents to actively decrease their risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
“We are working hard to build and promote a culture of health in our city,” said City of St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. “The social, economic and equity implications for our community and the people who call it home are invaluable. Every day we are working to inspire and make a difference. This policy change is one way we’re doing that.”
The policy’s nutritional guidelines provide strong standards for public facing vending machines and will increase accessibility to better food and beverage options. The standards are based on nutritional recommendations from the American Heart Association and the federal government, and call for caloric labeling on all machines to help employees and residents make more informed decisions about their snacks.
“We applaud the City of St. Petersburg for making a culture of health within the city a top priority,” said Kate Sawa, Executive Director of the American Heart Association Tampa Bay. “It is our hope that this progressive move encourages other communities throughout Tampa Bay and across the state to take similar action by adopting policies to improve health.”
The policy will impact the city’s 3,460 employees, 250,000 residents and the local tourism industry by allowing for a supportive food environment.