Jonathan Hilder, Chief Executive Officer of the Automatic Vending Association (AVA) provides an update on the Association’s recent lobbying of Government

Details of one of the latest Early Day Motions (EDM) has been brought to the attention of the AVA, in response to which, the Association has put forward a responsible, valid argument in view of the debate.

The EDM – ‘2998: Vending Machine Contents in Schools’ – puts forward views of the House which is concerned that many academies have vending machines selling sugary drinks, chocolate, sweets and crisps; notes that obesity is a growing problem among young people, with 31% now classified as overweight; welcomes Jamie Oliver’s call for academies to stop profiting from the sale of unhealthy snacks; and calls on the Government to allow academies to sell only healthy snacks as fruit, nuts and water.

The AVA understands the need to redress the balance in the nation’s diet, however believes that we appear to have lost the connection between lifestyle and consumption – both must be addressed in conjunction with each other to combat the obesity problem in our population.

In the conversations held between the AVA, headmasters and caterers throughout the UK, it is understood that banning food stuffs from educational establishments has shown no positive effect on the problem. All it has done is move the point of purchase to the local stores around the schools. This in turn creates the following problems:

•        Pupils leaving the school grounds

•        No supervision at all of pupil’s consumption

•        Complete freedom to buy outside of dietary guidelines

•        Purchase of upsized packs of fatty foods

•        Loss of revenue for the school

•        Provides opportunities for sale of banned products by nefarious pupils

•        Children having to carry cash

By placing a range of items in vending machines, a balanced diet may be offered, thus providing the opportunity to both educate our children in the need for a balanced diet and hopefully in moderation. This will, as a result, provide the schools with a revenue stream that is now so desperately in short supply.

We should also be able to create a connection using new technology to help reengage the link between lifestyle and consumption. Vending has the technology to do this, and any food can be part of a calorie controlled diet – as Andrew Lansley said at a recent meeting, ‘chocolate can be part of a balanced diet’. This is a view shared by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

We therefore need to consider how we use vending technology and work with establishments to provide the following:

•        A controlled environment for the purchase of snacks

•        An education into health lifestyle

•        A link to consumption and exercise

•        A proper source of income for the school

•        Parental control of purchases made through card systems

•        Ensure children are taking regular exercise

•        Provide cashless payment solutions

By providing a complete balanced choice of food and drink, we will be able to better educate our children and provide them with the answers to this national problem.

Snacking represents 1% of the calorific intake of the British diet and vending represents 5% of this, so banning products from vending leaves 99.95% of the problem untouched.

To find out more about the AVA, please visit Alternatively please call 01494 568960, ‘follow’ the AVA on Twitter – @vendingava – or ‘join’ The Automatic Vending Group on Linkedin!