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Nassau County’s Nutritious Snack Attack

County Exec Mangano expands Fit Nassau initiative via healthier vending machine options

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 72 million adults currently are obese while statistics provided by the American Heart Association indicate that the 1 in 3 adolescents who are overweight have a 70 percent chance of becoming obese adults. With that in mind, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano announced on Thursday, Aug. 9 plans to expand his Fit Nassau initiative with healthy choices in vending machines for over 100,000 students in 113 schools throughout Long Island. The program will also include snack dispensers at Nassau County parks and recreation facilities. Partnering with Mangano is Butch Yamali, president of Quick Snack, one of New York State’s top vending service whose extensive Long Island client base includes park facilities, Catholic hospitals, courthouses and more than 1,500 schools.

While half of the machines will still be filled with the typical candy bars, cookies and chips, healthier snack options including granola bars, sunflower seeds, low-calorie cookies, baked veggie chips and tomato juice will now be available in these machines. This is a move that Mangano indicated was crucial during this critical time of children’s lives.

“It’s important that government assist in fighting childhood obesity and we can do just that by providing children an opportunity to choose healthier snacks throughout their day. Healthy food choices at an early age can help children reap benefits for a lifetime,” he said before symbolically sweeping a pile of sugary candy off his podium into a nearby wastebasket.

A father of three children, Yamali’s desire to do the right thing plus his extensive civic involvement as a Merrick school board member and being past president of the Merrick Little League inspired him to get his company involved.

“The obesity epidemic in our country has gotten really bad. Adding to that is how gym class in schools is not like the gym class I grew up with where you climbed up ropes [and did other physical activities,” Yamali recalled. “Now it’s about walking laps and writing reports. And while there should always be food choices in this country, what we’re doing here is offering up healthier options not just for children, but adults who might be using our vending machines in non-school buildings. Obviously, you can’t make people eat healthier but maybe they’ll think twice about going for that candy bar.”

Wellness and Green Program Lead Ambassador Donna Martini also spoke of the importance of healthy snack options for children.

“This is a great day for our country, a huge stride for the wellness movement, and most especially for our young people, since children are so beholden to the choices we, as parents, make for them,” Martini said.

The Oyster Bay resident also announced that at 7 p.m. on October 18, she would be holding an outreach initiative for all wellness consultants and practitioners wishing to become involved in the Wellness and Green Program. It will be held at Marriot’s Residence Inn in Plainview. It’s the first of many steps Martini insists she’ll be making in doing her part for the Fit Nassau initiative.

“As the Lead Ambassador of Wellness, I will be helping County Executive Mangano bring additional initiatives to schools, and with our new Wellness Ambassador program, we will be recruiting many more health and green practitioners to blitz the county with School and Work Place Wellness,” Martini announced. “Together we will intensify and magnify our efforts in making Nassau, the leanest, greenest, healthiest county in the nation.”