CHICAGO -- The Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank led by former Sens. Bob Dole and Tom Daschle, has issued a report citing the U.S. Army's pilot of the National Automatic Merchandising Association's Fit Pick program and urging its wider implementation.
The report focuses on the Army's Soldier Fueling Initiative, which promotes healthier eating through standardized menus, provision of nutrition education, introduction of more nutritious foods identified as "Fit Pick" in the vending machines, and a marketing program to assure awareness and success. It notes that the changes were first implemented in the Army's 68 training bases and, following their success, have since been at least partly replicated at some training bases in other branches of the military.
"The Soldier Fueling Initiative is working, but basic training covers only a 10-week period," the report said. "We suggest that similar programs be expanded to all branches of service and continued through advanced training."
NAMA's Fit Pick program, unveiled by the vending association in 2008, is designed to educate consumers about products in vending machines that meet specific nutrition standards. It includes stickers that are placed in front of qualifying product and clings that explain the nutrition standard. It's part of NAMA's Balanced for Life, a program designed to educate consumers about the elements of a balanced diet and the importance of physical activity. It has been widely adopted by businesses, municipal and state governments and school districts across the country.
"Everyone at NAMA is extremely proud of the recognition of the success and importance of Fit Pick by the Bipartisan Policy Center," said NAMA executive vice-president and chief operating officer Dan Mathews. "And even more remarkable, the BPC suggests that the adoption by the Dept. of Defense should be expanded."