Howard County Health Advocates Try New Healthy Vending Legislation


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Vending machine policies in Howard County, Maryland has been a contentious issue lately. Late last year, a healthy vending policy that had strict guidelines for what the county could sell in vending machines was repealed. Health advocates were upset, but a new bill has been introduced that would require more reasonable but still healthy new vending guidelines.

County Councilman Calvin Ball introduced legislation that would adopt a similar set of nutritional guidelines as the previous ones aimed at “promoting health and choice.”

“This legislation creates an environment in our county buildings for our families and health to thrive,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, CEO of the Horizon Foundation, a Howard-based nonprofit campaigning for healthier drink options across the county. The group worked with Councilman Ball on the nutritional standards.

County festivals and special celebrations would be exempt from the nutritional standards. So would local nonprofits, such as sports booster clubs. Local vendors had complained last summer that the restrictions could hurt their sales.

The bill would also require healthy options to be displayed on the top shelves of vending machines and priced at least 25 cents less than higher-calorie food and drinks, where those are allowed.

The bill moves next to the council, which will hold a public hearing in May and could vote on the nutritional standards as early as June.

Read more from The Baltimore Sun.

This story was updated on November 11, 2015.

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