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Photo of a woman using a vending machineRegion news
Smart Pick: Your
healthier snack
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By Martina Gornik-Marion
Mar/Apr 2019

Vending machines are notorious for being stocked with calorie- laden snacks that are high in fat, sugar, and salt, and low on nutrients.

Or at least they used to be.

Choosing healthier food options is easier if the environment in which we live, work and play is supportive. And the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) is working towards doing just that - supporting staff, volunteers, students and visitors through the rollout of its Healthy Eating Environments Guideline.

The guideline will be implemented in phases, and the first phase requires all Regional sites to focus more on promoting healthier food options and increasing their availability in commercial and retail services, including vending. This is where Smart Pick comes in.

Smart Pick is a national program developed by a registered dietitian in partnership with the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association. The program goals are twofold: offer a healthier choice for consumers, and increase the selection of healthier food, snack and beverage options available to consumers. The program is designed to make healthier options more accessible, more appealing and affordable. It's not designed to restrict choice.

Vending companies using the Smart Pick program must provide snack and beverage options that meet specific nutrition criteria. In addition, a minimum of 20 per cent of the snack and beverage options in machines must be Smart Pick items. As part of the WRHA Healthy Eating Environments Guideline Nutrition Standards, vending contractors will work towards providing up to 50 per cent Smart Pick food and beverage items in the years to come.

For a snack to be a Smart Pick, it must meet the following nutrition criteria of no more than:

  • 250 calories
  • 10 grams total fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 15 grams sugar
  • 250 mg sodium

For a beverage to be a Smart Pick, it must meet these criteria:

  • Juice must be 100 per cent fruit or vegetable, with no added sugar.
  • Beverages must contain no more than 75 calories per serving.
  • Regular coffee and tea (no specialty drinks).
  • Milk must be one per cent, or non-fat, dairy or non-dairy, any flavour.
  • Water (plain, sparkling or flavoured) must contain no more than 20 calories per serving.

So, the next time you find yourself in front of a vending machine, snack smart, choose Smart Pick!

Martina Gornik-Marion is a public health dietitian with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Machines across the Region are already stocked with Smart Pick products

Smart Pick logoLook for the Smart Pick decals and logo on machines. Snacks and beverages are also easy to find in the machines. Healthier options are placed at eye level and grouped together where they are most noticeable and likely to be seen by you! To further take the guesswork out of finding a healthier snack, look for the logo next to Smart Pick snacks or beverages in the vending machine.