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Wellmark Foundation grant promotes healthy food and drink options in state vending machines

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, includes worksites, rest areas, state parks

February 15, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) will use a two-year, $112,500 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to implement a wellness and prevention project that will provide healthy food and drink options in state-owned vending machines.

Implementing Vending Machine Policy for State-Owned Buildings, Rest Areas and State Parks will develop a policy for state facilities to provide healthy options for at least 30 percent of the food and beverage choices in vending machines. “Healthy” will be based on the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey-Vending (NEMS-V) criteria, created to evaluate food choices in vending machines.

Motivating consumers to make healthy choices
IDPH’s project will help answer the question of “what motivates consumers to purchase healthy choices?” The initiative will use social marketing to determine the needs of vending machine users, and develop messages that motivate them to choose healthy options.

IDPH will partner with Natural Resources and Administrative Services departments, as well as the Iowa Department for the Blind, ZLR Ignition and vending suppliers. Project goals include:

  • Developing a policy to provide a minimum of 30 percent of healthy food and beverage choices in state-owned vending machines
  • Developing purchasing criteria to encourage better pricing for healthy options
  • Developing targeted messages to meet consumers needs in multiple settings

Grant one of only 17 competitively selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. Through its 2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received nearly 150 grant requests. This grant award to IDPH represents one of 17 competitively awarded to establish or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

Cumulatively, The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award $1,334,817 to these 17 grants to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“Vending machines aren’t generally known for offering healthy snacks,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “Encouraging healthier choices at the point of purchase is one more way we can help prevent obesity and live healthier lifestyles.”

About Iowa Department of Public Health
The Iowa Department of Public Health partners with local public health, policymakers, health care providers, business and many others to fulfill our mission of promoting and protecting the health of Iowans.

For more information on the Iowa Department of Public Health BMI measurement program, contact Carol Voss, (515) 242-5566 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit





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