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Committee Approves Rahm's Healthier Vending Machines

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Committee Approves Rahm's Healthier Vending Machines

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to crack down on the caloric content of city vending machines popped up in Wednesday's City Council meeting, and aldermen had some heavy concerns.

After committee members OK'd the proposed ordinance this week, council members wondered everything from whether the sodium level of drinks would be considered in the plan to if Chicago actually has enough healthy foods to fill the machines according to the mayor's criteria. 

Emanuel made the suggestion last month to replace current vending options with healthier items by 2013. Proposed guidelines dictate that only 25 percent of the new machines' cold beverages can be "high calorie," or contain 25 calories or more per eight ounces. All hot drinks must not be high-calorie, and all vended drinks must be limited to 12 ounces.

“These new vending machines will make it easier than ever before for city employees and the public to make healthy lifestyle decisions,” Emanuel said in the proposal. “When city employees take their wellness into their own hands, we can reduce health care costs and also serve as a model for the residents of Chicago when it comes to making healthy choices.”

According to the plan, at least 75 percent of food offerings should contain 250 calories or less and at least five items should contain 250mg or less of sodium per serving. A gluten- and nut-free option also must be provided.

Healthier foods can't be priced higher than their higher-calorie counterparts either. 

In the end aldermen applauded the idea, lamenting the seemingly healthy choices currently available in the machines.

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