‘Balanced for Life’ Offers a Wealth of Marketing Tools

May 1, 2008
Now in its third year, NAMA’s health and wellness initiative gives vending operators tools to address customers’ concerns. There are different sets of standards, allowing operators to meet diverse needs.

The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Balanced for Life program, a national health and wellness initiative, offers a wide array of marketing tools for vending operators. From online resources that can help operators evaluate and create nutrition-based menus to downloadable template wellness materials, machine graphics and point-of-sale materials, the program has something for everyone.

If you’re new to health and wellness generally or have questions about finding products, understanding how to price them, or even wonder why you should even consider implementing a health and wellness program at your accounts, NAMA’s new “Health Wellness and Vending: How to Make it Work For You” manual is the best place to start. Inside the manual you will find:

  • What operators who are interested in integrating health and wellness into their vending program need to know before they get started.
  • How certain demographics of an account might impact the overall product selection and percentages.
  • How pricing issues affect product selections and examples of successful pricing initiatives.
  • Techniques for effectively educating customers about the benefits of health and wellness choices.
  • Successful experiences in introducing health and wellness products to school officials, parents, and others in the community.
  • Resources that are available through NAMA with health and wellness programs generally.

After you have an idea of what, exactly, your health and wellness needs are, the Balanced for Life Campaign has a variety of materials that can help you with whatever your needs might be.


If you’re an operator looking for a nutrition standard that you can share with accounts, you might consider the new Balanced for Life Fit Pick™ Nutrition Baskets. Each BFL nutritional component is a voluntary, stand alone system that provides all the materials necessary to implement that particular standard.

The package includes stickers that operators can place in front of qualifying products, along with thin clings that explain the nutrition standard, and coin slot and round stickers to help educate consumers as well. Each package also includes a list of products that meet that particular nutrition standard.

The stand-alone baskets offer two choices for operators to consider:

  • 35-10-35 standard – This is the most widespread nutritional guideline, and calls for products that are less than 35 percent calories from fat, less than 10 percent from saturated fat and less than 35 percent total weight in sugar; or
  • The Alliance for a Healthier Generation standard – This standard begins with the 35-10-35 guidelines mentioned above, but also requires a cap of 230 milligrams of sodium and for calorie caps of 180 for products sold in middle schools and 200 for products sold in high schools.

NAMA created two nutrition standards for operators to ensure there were options designed to meet the needs for each and every account. For example, the 35-10-35 guideline might meet the needs of most accounts, but others might be interested in a stronger nutritional component.

Specifically, many B & I accounts might adopt the 35-10-35 option, but other locations might want the more aggressive Alliance package.

I can tell you from personal experience that the new Fit Pick™ nutrition standards are being very well received by my clients. Both Group Health, a local health care cooperative, and the State of Washington Department of Health recently decided to scrap an existing in-house nutrition standard program and replace it with NAMA’s Fit Pick™ program. In addition, the program itself has been very well received by the employees.

If you haven’t looked at these new nutrition baskets, you’re missing out on a valuable tool to share with your accounts. Taking action and being proactive now can help position you as a concerned partner, helping you solidify your long-term relationship and future.


The Health, Wellness and Vending manual and Fit Pick™ Nutrition Standard baskets are just the newest tools provided by the campaign to help operators partner with their accounts. Just consider the many other tools that are available to help operators with school and work accounts:

  • Campaign Summary Brochure – This brochure explains all the materials available through the campaign and is a good tool to share with accounts to demonstrate how our industry is working to be part of the solution. The brochure also educates accounts about the many materials available through the campaign.
  • Campaign Video – This 4-minute summary video explains the campaign and is also a good tool to share with accounts to educate them about our work in this arena.
  • Machine clings for students, reminding students about the importance of a balanced diet and physical activity. These clings each feature one of our campaign characters: AJ the Athlete, Healthy Hazel and Sean the Smart Guy.
  • “Be A Smart Snacker!” brochure educating students about the choices from a vending machine that can help them round out a balanced diet.
  • “How To” First Responder’s Kit, with information about addressing and discussing childhood obesity and vending. The packet includes: school materials, with ideas about how to partner with your school; media materials, including talking points and template letters to the editor; how to work with legislators, including sample testimony; and community tools, with ideas about how to demonstrate your commitment to the community.
  • Trivia Treasure Hunt. Download these 12 posters with diet and fitness questions, then place them around the school. The first students to answer all the questions correctly win a prize. Everything you need to administer the game is available at www.balancedforlife.net.
  • Better for You Game. This game is designed to drive sales for specific health and wellness products in the machine. Simply download all the materials at the operator tab “Info for Schools” link at www.balancedforlife.net, decide which products qualify as health and wellness snacks, then list those snacks on the contest poster. Students collect the UPC codes from the designated health and wellness products to win prizes you select.
  • “Make a Difference: Some Ideas for Your School’s Vending Program,” written by NAMA’s senior director of technical services, Larry Eils, and dietitian Lori Valencic, M.Ed., R.D., L.D. This booklet can help you evaluate and improve your school vending program.

Workplace tools include a “Walk Your Way to Wellness” game. While nutrition education is an important part of our campaign, getting people active is also important. To encourage workers to exercise, NAMA created this game that motivates people to “Walk Across America.”

To participate, operators should call NAMA to order pedometers which will be used to track the steps taken for each participant. Participants can play individually or in teams, marking their progress on a map of the U.S. To begin, operators should visit the operator toolbox at www.balancedforlife.net where they can download a “Walk Your Way to Wellness Contest” packet with materials to share with their accounts. The materials include contest instructions, contest promotional materials (posters and fliers,) and a map of walking routes. Once the designated miles have been reached, contest participants can mail their pedometers to NAMA to receive a Balanced for Life t-shirt.

There are also machine clings for all age groups. These colorful machine clings also remind consumers about a balanced diet and the importance of physical activity, but are designed more for older audiences.

There are also “Snack Smart” brochures and posters. Unlike the “Be A Smart Snacker! brochures,” which are designed for younger audiences, the “Snack Smart” brochures and posters deliver the same messages, but are designed for an older audience. Brochure holders that can be placed on the machine are also available.

There is also “Get Healthy and Fit Kit.” You can download all the materials you need to share with accounts and create a customized wellness program. The kit is available at www.balancedforlife.net under the “Info for Workplaces” link in the “Operator Toolbox” and provides NAMA client companies with information for starting a program along with materials they can reproduce in-house and distribute to employees.

The kit includes a section on getting physically fit, and a section on nutrition and a balanced diet. The kit also includes a host of links where members can go for more information and resources to help them implement and monitor their program. There are also generic nutrition stickers. These new stickers from NAMA are another option to help you identify products with enhanced nutritional components. There are four versions of the stickers: low calories; zero calories; low sodium; trans-fat free.


Best of all, I’m pleased to report that our campaign is delivering results. Thousands of TV, newspaper and radio stories have appeared around the world discussing our campaign and highlighting our industry’s work to fight obesity.

Where once people may have instantly connected our industry with so-called “junk food” and rising obesity rates, today they are looking at our work to be part of the solution, and instead evaluating other causes and potential solutions to combat this complex problem.


The Balanced for Life program is delivering tangible results to vending operators. Following are quotes from operators using the program.

“NAMA and its Balanced for Life program literally saved the day for me,” said Marcie Braddock, project manager, A Matter of Taste, Van Nuys, Calif. “When my client decided to unveil a national wellness campaign, they were looking for my help. I had pieces of paper all over my desk, trying to decide what I could possibly do, when I noticed that everything I needed was already available thanks to Balanced for Life. This is a great example of why we belong to NAMA – because they are always one step ahead of us developing the tools we need to solve the next set of problems.”

“Recently one of my national clients was looking for an employee health and wellness program, and I was faced with the prospect of developing an entire program for them,” said Alan Plaisted, president Southern Refreshment Services, Tucker, Ga. “What a relief it was for me to see that NAMA had already created all the materials I needed through the Balanced for Life campaign! Even better, they were there every step of the way to support me in every way possible. I don’t even want to think about the resources I would have otherwise had to invest if I hadn’t had access to this program.”