Vending machines are not only a convenient source for a snack but sometimes they're the only one. People who find themselves stuck and hungry may not have any choice but to dig deep for a few coins and choose from what's offered.
The same is true at ballparks, swimming pools and other places where people often find themselves hungry, thirsty and captive.
Now, healthier choices are on the menu in vending machines and at snack bars around our community, thanks to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition, Lexington Parks and Recreation and the Lexington Legends.
The health department — honoring its name and mission — has worked with its vending machine company to stock affordable drinks and snacks that meet nutritional guidelines aimed at limiting the calories, salt, sugar and trans, unsaturated and total fats in the selections. Parks and Recreation and the Legends have signed on to the Better Bites program created by the coalition that offers fresh fruits, water and chicken salad sandwiches on whole wheat bread as alternatives to the standard high-fat, processed fare.
As an example, on Mondays when kids eat free at the baseball park, that free meal is a crust-less sandwich, fruit and water, replacing a hotdog, chips and a soft drink.
In Kentucky, with the third highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation, there can't be any argument about the need to give kids healthier choices. This isn't as easy as it may seem, either for cash and time-strapped parents or concession stand and vending machine operators.
These are small but important efforts that point the way to offering healthier options for busy adults and active kids. Let's hope others follow the lead.