Hempstead Town Makes Health a Priority

Issued by: Council Member Erin King Sweeney

Healthy Options Coming to a Town Location Near You!

Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney today unveiled two “heart healthy” vending machines at Hempstead Town’s Camp Anchor in Point Lookout as part of the town’s partnership with the American Heart Association to create healthier environments for healthier choices. Joining her were Supervisor Laura Gillen, Councilmen Anthony D’Esposito and Dennis Dunne as well as representatives from the American Heart Association, Butch Yamali, owner of Quick Snack Vending, and the town’s medical director, Dr. Dave Neubert.

“In light of February being Heart Health Month, I am proud to partner with the American Heart Association to bring healthier snack and beverage options to residents while they enjoy their day at Town facilities,” stated Councilwoman King Sweeney. “Statistics show we are what we eat and drink, and this initiative gives residents better choices when it comes to being healthy on the go.”

“I am thrilled that the Town of Hempstead is being proactive with providing healthy vending machines at Camp Anchor and other town facilities to demonstrate the importance of healthy eating,” said Supervisor Laura Gillen.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease (including coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke) remains the number one cause of death in the United States and more than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for heart disease and stroke as well as many other chronic illnesses and conditions. Healthy nutrition is a key factor for heart disease and stroke, and plays a vital role in obesity, cholesterol and diabetes. Officials noted that healthy eating may cost more initially; however, the long term benefits are invaluable, especially when considering the high cost of prescription medicine and medical bills due to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

The announcement was held at Camp Anchor, which is a comprehensive year-round program serving 1,200 children and adults with special needs. Throughout the winter/spring season, the Town of Hempstead ANCHOR Program presents an enriching and encompassing schedule of recreational activities on weeknights and Saturdays.

“Camp Anchor holds a special place in our hearts and is a perfect location to kick-off our heart healthy initiative here in Hempstead Town,” added Councilman D’Esposito. “It is important to provide healthier options for all of our residents, but especially for our Camp Anchor residents and families who spend many fun-filled days and nights at this one-of-a-kind location.”

Councilman Dennis Dunne added, “This is a step in the right direction to making healthy choices easier, especially for our younger residents who are impressionable. Making smarter food choices coupled with Hempstead Town’s excellent park activities and programs are the key to heart health.”

With more than 1,400 acres of parkland in more than 90 parks located across the township, combing healthy eating and exercise in easy in Hempstead Town. From swimming at 23 pool facilities to golf, ice skating, physical fitness classes, youth and adult league offerings for softball, basketball, lacrosse and soccer, a lacrosse academy and a yearly triathlon, residents can enjoy a plethora of activities to stay heart healthy.

“It is our pleasure to work with Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, the Town of Hempstead Board, and the American Heart Association to provide heart-healthy snacks and beverages to the Town’s residents and all who utilize Hempstead facilities. We are thrilled that the Town of Hempstead, specifically Councilwoman King Sweeney, has begun this endeavor and we are excited to work alongside the town on making Hempstead healthier, one vending machine at a time,” said Butch Yamali.

The new “heart healthy” vending machines will be placed throughout the Town of Hempstead’s various locations such as Town Hall and other town buildings and parks, and will be prominently displayed with “heart healthy” wrapping. The items in the machine must meet the criteria set by the American Heart Association and vending machines must include 50% healthy snacks or beverages to be considered heart healthy. Snack vending machines will include snacks with less than 200 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, 200 mg of sodium, 10 grams of sugar and contain at least 2 grams of fiber. Each item must have calorie information on the packaging and for programs serving children 18 and under, products cannot contain artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or other non-nutritive sweeteners. Beverage vending machines will be filled with water including sparkling and flavored water with 10 calories or less per serving, fat-free or low-fat skim milk and milk alternatives with less than 130 calories per 8 fluid ounces, juice with 100% fruit or vegetable juice with no added sugars-sweeteners and less than 120 calories per 8 fluid ounces.

“I am thankful to the American Heart Association for their partnership in bringing this program to the Town of Hempstead,” concluded Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney. “It is my hope that by providing healthier options to residents, we will play a role in healthier eating and better heart health leading to happier and longer lives!”