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SC Judicial Dept, Staff Welcome Healthy Vending Choices

There’s a new “micromart” canteen at the SC Court of Appeals building, and Judicial Department staff are looking for healthy options. In collaboration with the American Heart Association, Working Well, and the SC Commission for the Blind, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) hosted a healthy taste test on April 28 to help the micromart vendor determine what types of healthy options to sell.

“Here, we have a lot of health conscious people who watch what they eat and use their Fitbits to walk, so I definitely wanted to test out some healthy foods and beverages that my customers might be interested in,” said Maguya Walker, licensed vendor.

Walker is part of the SC Commission for the Blind’s Business Enterprise Program – a statewide program that helps blind and legally blind citizens become entrepreneurs in businesses such as snack bars, cafeterias, and other merchandising venues. Participants earn their business license, and are then assigned to various government locations around the state. Walker was assigned the SC Judicial Department and the SC Department of Education.

“I am doing some research now and developing my knowledge on healthy options because I want to keep my customers happy with what they want and what they’re looking for,” said Walker.

The newly opened micromart is the first canteen to be located at the SC Court of Appeals Building. Employees previously would have to venture to other buildings to find snacks and drinks.

“I’m very excited that we have something here in this building that will offer something other than salt and fat,” said Merrell Johnson, Office of Human Resources at the SC Judicial Department. “When we found out we were getting this canteen and that it was going to offer healthy options, I think everyone in our office was excited.”

Nearly 100 employees dropped into the micromart during the taste test to sample healthy options like greek yogurt, granola bars, and low-calorie beverages. Then, they rated each product they tested and provided feedback on whether or not they would buy the products. They were also given the opportunity request specific products and flavors.

ESMMSC and our partners are working with the SC Commission for the Blind and various municipalities and government agencies to ensure healthier food and beverage options are available in vending machines in government buildings, parks, recreation centers, and other public places.

“State and local governments have an important opportunity to support employees and the public in their efforts to make healthier choices,” said Hannah Walters, senior manager for policy and community initiatives at ESMMSC. “Even better, we know that stocking healthier options can be good for business and health. That’s a win-win.”

In February 2017, ESMMSC worked with the City of Columbia on becoming the first municipality in South Carolina to adopt evidence-based nutrition standards for foods and beverages purchased, sold, or served by the city, including through vending machines, meetings, and events.