May 1, 2018

Baltimore County Increases Healthy Snack Options in Vending Machines

On May 1, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz signed an executive order (2018-001) that will expand healthy drinks and snacks offered in county vending machines.

Sugar Free Kids Maryland was shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of Kamenetz on May 10. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family.

The bill ensures that at all items in machines will meet American Heart Association-recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures, and that every drink machine offer bottled water.

The following statement has been issued by Shawn McIntosh, executive director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland, a coalition representing hundreds of health, youth, faith, education, professional and labor organizations:

Our coalition applauds County Executive Kamenetz for signing the executive order to ensure that the healthy choice will be the easy choice in vending machines across the county. With these changes, Baltimore County is prioritizing the health of its residents, students and workers. Nationally, 75 percent of all healthcare dollars are spent to treat chronic diseases. Healthier options will reduce that figure.

This executive order is designed to help the county promote health, save lives and reduce the costly effects of medical conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sugary drinks and unhealthy food contribute to chronic diseases that significantly affect the lives of residents in Baltimore County and lead to large health care costs. Thirty-six percent of women and 33.7 percent of men living in Baltimore County are unable to maintain a healthy weight. Nearly 2 percent of all deaths in Baltimore County are due to heart disease.

We are excited to see that county leaders have taken a proactive stand to support measures like this that will improve health for people who live, work and play in the community.

This builds on recent momentum in the state of Maryland where legislation that ensures healthy drinks and snacks in vending machines have been passed by Baltimore City, Charles County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission since 2015.

Sugar Free Kids Maryland looks forward to continuing to work closely with partners to advocate for policies improving health in Baltimore County and across the state.