Healthy vending machines come to area

Still waiting for this in our lobby.

A vending-machine company that sells fruits and vegetables instead of cookies and chips is currently installing devices in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

Fresh Healthy Vending company operates 800 machines nationwide. It was founded in San Diego in 2010, and its machines offer nutritious alternatives to typical vending-machine fare. Its merchandise includes items like soy milk, yogurt and fresh produce. They run about $1.50 per item, a slightly higher rate than typical vending machine prices, which tend to remain under the $1 mark.

Nick Bruce, the local franchise owner, has already installed machines at 30 locations in southern Louisiana, including Edison Chouest Offshore’s plant in Cut Off, the Terrebonne Parish Main Library in Houma and the Terrebonne Parish Government Tower.

“We saw a niche that was waiting to be taken over. It seems like everyone’s trying to eat healthy,” said Bruce, who added he would like to bring more machines to Terrebonne Parish, particularly inside the school system. “We wanted to give kids an option. Let’s face it, everybody snacks, but this is an alternative to soda and chips.”

The machines might be a hard sell in southern Louisiana. According to the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s annual County Health Rankings for 2011 report, the adult obesity rates are 37 percent in Terrebonne Parish and 35 percent in Lafourche. That’s higher than both the state obesity rate of 32 percent and national average, which is 25 percent.

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