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City parks get healthier snack machines

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Chicago Park District is taking a big step to provide more healthy snacks for children and other visitors.

City officials introduced new vending machines Tuesday containing snacks with lower sodium and reduced sugar and calories.

Children visiting the parks will have to say goodbye to some candy bars and fried potato chips as the healthier options replace traditional snack machines and become the new norm at Chicago Park District venues.

The healthier snack machines are part of a task force effort to reduce childhood obesity.

So far, a vending machine company has installed 20 healthier snack machines inside of Chicago Park District facilities such as Humboldt Park. Almost 100 machines will be in field houses citywide by the end of the year.

The new machines contain snacks that are fewer than 100 calories. Also, at least one snack per machine will be gluten-free and peanut-free.

Several health organizations joined the Chicago Park District in the effort.

Some people are wondering if the new snacks taste good.

"They will be tasty and I know that they're buying them because we can't keep these machines full," said Colleen Lammel-Harmon, Chicago Park District wellness manager. "We feel it is our duty to only offer healthy snacks. The food we offer should be healthy. That is our duty, to offer a safe environment and be a leader in health and wellness."

Chicago Park District officials say it's important to note the new snack machines are replacing the old ones, not being installed in addition to them.

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