Make the vending machines in your workplace healthier

Many workplaces and institutions now have vending machines. Often healthy choices are limited or non-existent in vending machines.

The HOVER project was undertaken by Eat Well Tasmania Inc. several years ago, however what we learned and the tools we developed are still being used and highly relevant today.

HOVER is an acronym for Healthier Options for Vending – Employer Resource.

The Step by Step HOVER Guide shows you how to make your workplace or organisations vending machine choices healthier, so all tastes are catered for and popular with purchasers, to keep the machine profitable.

There is a range of information to help you get started:

  • Understand the benefits of encouraging healthy eating in workplaces.
  • Try the HOVER calculator to quickly assess food to include in your healthier vending machine.
  • If you are a health professional you may like to review the frequently asked questions fact sheet.

Why eat healthy at work?

Research shows that healthy employees are happier, more productive, have more energy and have fewer sick days. A workplace environment that helps employees to make healthy food choices can contribute to the health and wellbeing of all employees. Good nutrition helps to maintain energy levels and concentration, helps to maintain a healthy body weight, and assists in the prevention and management of chronic disease.

Workplaces are recognised as an important place for supporting the health and wellbeing of employees. Workers spend a large part of their day in the workplace, and so it can influence employee’s physical activity, nutrition and work life balance. It makes sense then that the food readily available in the workplace can impact on health.

There are many factors that can make it easier for employees to eat well at work including:

  • Ensuring there is adequate food storage and preparation facilities for employees.
  • Healthy catering for meetings and events.
  • Fundraising using junk food options are kept to a minimum, and
  • where vending machines are present, ensuring that there are healthy options for sale.

To assist employers in creating healthier work environments, we have developed the Healthier Options in Vending – A Guide for Tasmanian Employers which focuses on helping workplaces to include healthy food and drink options in their vending machines.

The HOVER Calculator is a tool designed to make it easy to quickly assess food products using a ‘traffic light system’.  Food products are categorised as “green”, “amber” or “red” based on their nutrient content.

GREEN products are considered ‘everyday foods’. They are the best choices and should be encouraged. They are healthy foods consistent with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. They contain less saturated fat, added sugar and salt, and are lower in energy.

AMBER products are to be selected carefully. They are mainly processed food and drinks and are commonly higher in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt.

RED products are considered “occasional foods” and should be kept to a minimum. These options are processed and/or confectionary items and contain high energy, salt, sugar and/or saturated fat levels. Red options are not healthy choices. Consuming these can contribute to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and overweight and obesity.