How Healthy Are The Vending Machines At The Howard County Library?

I am following up to the article “Healthy Vending Machines Now In Howard County Libraries” from July 18th. I had a blog reader (Matt S.) send me photos from this past weekend of vending machines at other libraries in the county: (click the photos below to see a larger version)

Here are photos from the Glenwood Branch library:

You can see clearly in these photos the name of the vendor responsible for these machines (Black Tie Vending) and the signage on both the food and drink machines.

Here are photos from the Miller Branch Library:

It appears that the food vending machine does not have the signage about the machines being healthy…but the drink one does at this branch. I wonder if coffee machines are part of this law or where they fit in to this (if at all).

As I noted in the past article…there are issues with the signage stating “vending machines at all Howard County Library System branches feature healthier food and drinks in accordance with Howard County Council Bill CB17-2015.” In that article HCPLS staff stated “We have asked the vendor to ensure all our  machines are in compliance, and we expect an answer back from them next week. Any outstanding machines will be brought into compliance asap.”

I reached out to Howard County Government and they provided me the following statement:

Howard County libraries which are owned and managed by Howard County Government are required to comply with CB17-2015 even though the libraries procure their own vending services and manage their own contracts.

This statement would mean that the Howard County Department of Administration is responsible for compliance monitoring of these machines via inspections. Things they should look at right away are:


If you look at the photo of the vending machines with drinks…you will notice a significant amount of diet drinks. Now I did not check each option to see if they did or did not contain non-caloric sweetener…so maybe compliant.

Food and drinks:

No question that number (75%) looks to be covered on the drink side. On the food side…not sure. Look at the photos above and you tell me? I did not do a count but I was a big fan of the food options in the machines (that generally means not very healthy). You can clearly see Doritos, Fritos, Cheese Its, Ruffles (cheddar cheese flavored), M&Ms, Snickers, pop tarts and a variety of other options I would purchase. Again…maybe they fit the definition of healthy per the law. If so…AWESOME. If not…not sure those machines are at 75% healthy.


This is a big swing and miss for those machines complying with the law. I do not see any type of display on or in the machines that made anything distinguishable of what is healthy and what is stuff I would buy in a machine (not healthy).

My recommendation for the library is to remove the signs until the machines comply with the law….just my suggestion.

We have “Healthy vending machines coming to Howard County government buildings and facilities” in the near future…so be on the look out for those machines to be replaced in the next few months.

Big thanks to Matt Smithson for the images. I appreciate it.

Have thoughts on these machines….let me know in the comments.

Scott E

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