New healthy food options in vending machines

The City’s Wellness Committee has been working to provide more healthy vending machine food options in City Hall and the Public Service Center. A recent survey determined that employees in the two buildings were interested in healthy food options in the vending machines. This month, new healthy snacks were added to machines, giving employees a convenient way to grab something healthy to eat instead of having to leave their building for food. These food options will change monthly.

The City has worked with the Minnesota Business Enterprises Program’s (BEP’s) licensed legally blind vendors for nearly 40 years. The BEP provides vending machine business opportunities to qualified licensed legally blind Minnesotans. There are 37 employed licensed blind vendors in the state. Paul Bloomst, who joined BEP three years ago and currently operates 50 vending machines in Minneapolis, has been stocking the vending machines in City Hall and the Public Service Center for the past six months.

Q. What’s your role in getting healthier food choices in the vending machines at City Hall and the Public Service Center?
A. I talked to people at the City who I work with about what they wanted to put in the machines and we go from there. We just rolled out apples and peanut butter, yogurt, and cheese and beef sticks in the cold food machines. In the regular chip machines, there’re Veggie Straws, baked chips and popchips. We started with cold food this month and with the chips and that type of thing about three months ago.

Q. What are the most popular healthy food choices in the machines?
A. People liked the baked chips more than I thought they would. They also like SunChips and nuts. Honey-roasted peanuts have always sold well.

Q. What’s your experience been like with the BEP?
A. When I lost most of my sight, I never thought I was going to be able to go back to work until I met somebody who was doing this (BEP). I thought I can do that. For most of us who can see and then all of a sudden can’t, what you’ve done most of your life for work is out the window.
It’s been good emotionally. It keeps me busy. I’m not a desk person. I needed something where I could stay active while still being visually impaired.

Q. What’s one thing you want people who might encounter you at City Hall and the Public Service Center to know about you?
A. Treat me like anybody else; don’t feel sorry for me. I have vision problems, but other than that, I get up in the morning just like everybody else.



Published Jul 11, 2017



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