Orange County Health Department’s work focused on multiple comprehensive meetings with county staff to promote healthy meeting guidelines and implement practice changes. The county additionally conducted promotional and outreach work by providing partners with educational materials, posters and signage on the health benefits of water. They influenced changes in water placement and availability in vending machines and provided community organizations with hygienic wall-mounted ‘water stations’. The county also implemented a ‘Water Campaign’ in their local mall.
“The information enabled us to learn about how our vending machine contracts work, how we can work with our contractor toward replacing some of the contents to include more water, more low calorie beverages as well as healthier snack choices. In addition, we focused more attention on the water fountains in each building and were able to step up their usage by improving visibility and cleanliness….raised our awareness of the potential for our Wellness Center to influence our students and employees to change some old habits and opt for healthier food and beverage choices.”
Coordinator of Health Services, SUNY Orange
THE ORANGE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT EXPERIENCE
What They Did
- An announcement letter describing the SSBs grant and a written handout describing sample practices was mailed to town supervisors and mayors.
- Newly developed educational print materials were displayed at various locations (for example, libraries, worksites).
- The county provided on-going technical assistance to partners in making practice changes and in negotiating with beverage vendors to change product mixes.
- Pre and post assessments of county vending machines were conducted to document changes in the placement and availability of non-SSBs. Click here to see Sample Vending Machine Assessment.
Outcomes and Successes
- A proclamation on healthy beverages was developed by the city of Newburgh.
- Practices and meeting guidelines were developed and adopted by city buildings, libraries, an academic institution, and county government and other departments.
- An educational ‘Water Campaign’ using informational table top posters was implemented at the food court of the local mall. A vendor survey on the availability of water, placement of water, and water sales was also conducted at the mall. After taking the survey, several vendors considered moving water up to the front for greater visibility.
- Changes were made to the availability and placement of healthy beverages in vending machines and educational materials were made available at vending machines (at point-of-purchase).
- Britta filtered water stations were provided to partner organizations (Department of Social Services, Public Library).
- The county provided refillable water bottles to Little League teams to promote water as the beverage of choice.
- City and Town Offices, Purchasing Division, City Libraries, County Park and Recreation Departments, Community Coalitions, Senior Centers, Academic Institution, Social Service Department
Best Practices and Lessons
- Rely on existing evidence on SSBs (quick facts, research, and toolkits) to educate decision-makers and determine next steps.
- Provide samples of existing practices to partners and assist them with customizing the practices.
- Involve the purchasing department early-on in the process to help facilitate communications with the vending company.
- Learn the vending machine contract structure and processes as soon as possible, including length of contract, location of machines, sales data, types of machines and products available.
- Use your partner network to get the word out and promote messages.
- Start small and focus on small wins (for example, place large cups at water coolers to increase water consumption, provide water or non-SSBs instead of SSBs at meetings, establish ‘agreements’ to place water and non-SSBs placement in vending machines if product mix contract itself cannot be changed immediately).
- Vending machine changes and point-of-purchase materials affected approximately 4460 employees.
- Water campaign at the mall affected all county mall-goers during the holiday season.
- With the help of their community coalition, the county will continue to disseminate materials and promote practices to support healthy beverages.
- Vending contracts are complex. It takes time to understand them. Start early!
- Some municipalities’ hesitated to make environmental changes stating that it was ‘not the role of government’ to make environmental changes. The county attempted to educate them by using evidence on SSBs and overall health.
Contact: Meg Oakes, Healthy Orange, Orange County Department of Health, 130 Broadway, Newburgh, NY 12550 Phone: 845-568-5247. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org