Balanced for Life campaign expands to include B & I customers

Almost one year after our official Balanced for Life Kick Off in Washington, D.C., the campaign is delivering results. Members have received machine graphics and point-of-sale materials that they can use at their accounts. Dietitians are available to consult with members about their own nutritional needs or answer specific questions, and public relations professionals are working closely with state councils to plan special events and meet with key legislators.

And in school systems across the country, thousands of at-risk inner city students are learning more about a balanced diet and playing daily after-school soccer matches.

Our efforts are gaining notice
Entering the search terms "Balanced for Life" and "vending" returns 2,290 hits at the Yahoo search engine, ranging from stories on networks like ABC and CBS reporting on our unveiling, to articles and stories on television stations coast-to-coast about the successful events we sponsored, such as the ones featuring Olympic Gold Medalists Janet Evans and soccer legend Brandi Chastain.

But the nation's focus on the health problems and costs associated with obesity has continued to grow and is quickly expanding into the workplace, which is why Phase Two of the campaign will expand into the business environment as well. For Phase Two of our campaign, we will also provide tools for operators to share with their business accounts.

By positioning the industry as a concerned partner working to protect the health and well being of our nation's workforce, we believe we can help pre-empt what otherwise could be devastatingly restrictive legislation, and instead shape more workable solutions that are more manageable for our members to implement.

This year, we expand our outreach
Specifically, for Phase Two we will continue to work with our network of campaign dietitians, and will also continue with our sponsorship of America Scores.

This year, however, we are looking to expand our relationship with the nonprofit after-school soccer program by encouraging more suppliers to donate products for their after-school practices or for the organization's special events, such as their Poetry Shout! celebrations or spring Jamborees.

America Scores operates mostly in low-income urban environments, and any help you can provide would be very appreciated, not only by NAMA, but more importantly by the countless disadvantaged students helped.

For our expansion into the workplace, we will be working extensively to provide operators tools that they can offer to their business and industry accounts that demonstrate we want to be part of the solution, and also help the company better address rising healthcare costs.

For example, we're working to finalize a partnership with a national gym that would offer discounts to NAMA members and their customers, and are developing a wellness program template that operators can share with their customers as well.

We're also planning an extensive media outreach program to build on the success we've had communicating our work addressing childhood obesity to tell of our expanded efforts addressing obesity at the workplace, too.

Help is coming for state councils
Finally, for Phase Two we want to build on the relationships we have with state councils, helping them develop programs that communicate appropriate messages to the legislature and general public. We'll be helping them plan and execute press conferences and other special events, schedule media interviews, and help them work more proactively with their local media outlets to ensure that the public and legislators know about our work addressing the nation's obesity crisis.

In addition, where appropriate, we'll be working with the state councils to effect legislation, raising support for bills we support, and, when we don't agree, focusing attention on the problems in the proposed measures.