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Montgomery County Installs Healthy Food Vending Machines

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Montgomery County executive Isiah Leggett, left, and Council member George Leventhal stand in front of the new vending machine in the county office building in Rockville. 
Matt Bush
Montgomery County executive Isiah Leggett, left, and Council member George Leventhal stand in front of the new vending machine in the county office building in Rockville. 

The latest anti-obesity campaign in Montgomery County is all about choice.

In the basement of the county executive office building in Rockville, there's a row of vending machines. The newest one is impossible to miss: bright yellow. Soy crisps, organic chocolate bars and bottles of water are just a few of the choices available. 

A computerized screen tells how many calories are in each item. County executive Isiah Leggett notes the new machine is a small move, but it's one in the right direction.

"Even here in Montgomery County, about half of our citizens are overweight," Leggett says. "And four out of ten of our children are in a similar position."

But getting workers and visitors to choose from this machine may be difficult. These healthy snacks cost more than the sticky buns, M&M's and potato chips just two machines away. But eating poorly has a greater cost to everyone, says County Council member George Leventhal.

"When our employees understand that we care about them, I believe that they'll feel that they can care better for the people who pay the bills, the taxpayers," Leventhal says. "So I agree, this is a small thing. But it speaks to very large values."

Similar machines are planned for all county government office buildings.

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