I saw this contest in one of the too many neighborhood newsletters to which I subscribe. Healthy Child Healthy World has teamed up with Fresh Healthy Vending, asking people to write a blog post about a good place for a Fresh and Healthy Vending Machine – which offers healthful snacks and beverages. This blog post is my entry for the BCC location of The Children in the Shoe Childcare Center.
In all modesty, I have the most perfect place in the history of perfect places for them to stick one of those Fresh and Healthy Vending Machines: The Children in the Shoe Childcare Center. The BCC location. I have to be specific because there is another Shoe across the street. We’re just lucky that way.
My daughter (pictured here in a manner consistent with my protective instincts) attends this daycare. It’s a fantastic place – riddled with super smart, sweet, hardworking teachers and staff, a resident dog who does an admirable job of herding the children, wall-mounted hand sanitizer… they’ve got it all. My 2-year-old can count to 20 in English, ten in Spanish, and sings songs in languages I don’t even recognize. One of the other classes made a collage of the human brain out of colored macaroni. For real. I think they start particle physics in the fall.
This amazing school is in the basement of an office building in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, and next door to Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. At the building’s entrance, there is a traditional soda machine and a standard-issue snack and candy machine. Also some extra space, if you Fresh and Healthy people catch my drift.
So far I’ve been lucky. My daughter loves to push the buttons, but hasn’t yet made the connection that those buttons could – with sufficient whining – produce chocolate or cola for her enjoyment. Other parents aren’t so fortunate. I’ve heard from staff that a lot of tears are shed in front of those machines. I think it’s for that reason that I got a big thumbs up when I suggested entering them into this contest.
It’s about more than just the kids, though. On top of that daycare, are four floors of offices full of hungry, busy people stranded a couple of blocks from the nearest restaurant. And next door is another office building just like it. And on the other side is a big high school full of students getting ready to head out into the world where they will have to fend for themselves nutrition-wise. That little lobby is at the center of a community that would put a Fresh and Healthy vending machine through its paces.
I’m the head of digital and social media for Arogya World, a global health non-profit organization dedicated to fighting non-communicable disease worldwide (no autographs, please). Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – which currently cause 60% of all deaths around the world and are on the rise – include cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory illness. We know that a healthy diet and physical activity can often prevent NCDs. We also know that good habits begin young.
As a mom, I try to feed my daughter well. Most of the time, anyway. A healthy snack machine would give me – and the parents of those other hundred kids at The Shoe – another opportunity to do just that. Teaching kids that treats don’t have to be nougat-based doesn’t have to be a chore. A nice machine with shiny buttons and full of fun snacks that build healthy bodies would be a great addition.
I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face the first time I let those buttons actually do something.