Food and COVID-19 in Seattle

Food and COVID-19 in Seattle

Food and COVID-19 in Seattle

COVID-19 has had an impact on everything including Seattle individuals’ relationship with food. While many of the changes can be seen anecdotally, a recent study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) specifically identified how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Americans’ current perceptions about food as well as food-related trends from the past decade.

Three key statistics stand out.

  • “85% of Americans have made at least some change in the food they eat or how they prepare it because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “32% of Americans reported in the survey that they are snacking more.”
  • “More than half (54%) of all consumers say the healthfulness of their food choices matters more now than it did in 2010 [the last time the survey was performed].”

Safety

Understanding these changes and adapting to them is especially important for Seattle employers as non-essential employees head back to their workplaces. Employers have an opportunity to help their employees by providing safely prepared refreshment options on-site. This is important as 27 percent of the 85 percent who have already made changes are thinking about what they are going to eat more than usual. A well-rounded and comprehensive approach to break room and food safety should play an integral part in creating a safe workplace.

Food and COVID-19 in Seattle

Employers can also emphasize the importance of risk-reduction practices (hand washing, minimizing contact with surfaces and using wipes and hand sanitizer) at work, especially when it comes to using the break room to purchase snacks, food, and beverages from vending machines or micro-markets. Break room providers can help by openly conveying their COVID-related policies and procedures. Combining education about risk-reduction practices and break room providers’ practices will help employees feel more comfortable purchasing break room items.

Healthy

Since almost a third of participants were snacking more, employers should consider offering additional healthy options to help employees make healthier choices. Better-for-you products are even more important for those employees who have children as 33 percent of participants who are parents (compared to 16 percent without children) are more likely to “eat their feelings” and then feel less satisfied by eating.

But choosing healthier options isn’t just for those with children. With more than 50 percent of the 1,011 survey participants making dietary choices based on health-related goals, access to better-for-you products is important for all Seattle employees. Of those 50+ percent of survey participants, 47 percent are following a specific diet to lose weight, 40 percent hope to have more energy, 39 percent are changing their physical appearance, 37 percent want to protect long-term health and prevent future health problems, and 36 percent want to prevent weight gain.

Seattle Break Rooms

Whether it’s adding new items to your refreshment menu or updating your break room with new vending machines or a micro-market, Vista Vending can help. We offer a wide variety of better-for-you and traditional snacks, fresh food, cold beverages, and office coffee service that can safely meet the refreshment needs of your employees. For more information, please contact us at (253) 592-2843. We look forward to hearing from you.  

Traditional and Healthy Snacks in Seattle

Snacks and 3 Important Characteristics in Seattle

Traditional and Healthy Snacks in Seattle

Snacks have many different purposes. For some Seattle individuals, they are a meal replacement while for other individuals they are a treat or a reason to gather with colleagues or friends. Just as there are different characteristics that make people unique, there are many reasons why individuals choose to snack.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic triggered drastic changes in how Seattle employees live and work, snacks have become even more essential for many individuals. According to a recent U.S. Snack Index survey “85% of respondents said eating their favorite snack makes them feel normal.” Some of those favorites are potato chips, popcorn, and corn chips. In this time of great change, small things that create a sense of normalcy are important since they can positively impact mental health. 

But snacking on one’s favorites isn’t the only thing survey participants want. They still prefer easily accessible snacks over ones that are harder to acquire, and they want variety or the option to try new products. In fact, 86 percent of survey participants said that the most important factor in deciding about what to snack on is convenience while 83 percent said sticking with a favorite ranks at the top.

Convenience

Many Seattle employers have been presented with a new opportunity to make sure their snack and beverage menus offer what their employees want. It’s worthwhile to take the time to ask employees about their preferences. Considering your employees’ opinions sends them a message that says, “We value you.” 

Traditional and Healthy Snacks in Seattle

With only 47 percent of survey participants saying they could locate all the snacks they wanted while shopping, employers have been presented with a new opportunity to increase convenience and customize their break room benefits. Offering on-site refreshments not only ups the convenience factor but they also encourage employees to stay on-site during breaks and meals. 

Less time spent off-site increases employee productivity and hopefully decreases the risk of infection. Gathering on-site in small groups during breaks also creates essential moments that can be used to rebuild morale and the office community that has been missing with fewer employees in the office.

Something New

Even though survey participants placed a heavy focus on snacking on their favorites, they are still interested in trying new snacks. In the survey, Millennials and Gen Z represented the largest and most adventurous demographic. A few things to consider, in addition to convenience, when thinking about what Millennials and Gen Z are looking for with new choices are healthy options, high-protein, low calorie snacks, options with a low environmental footprint, and trustworthy brands.  

How successfully does your Seattle break room menu meet your employees’ refreshment needs? Whether you need to make a complete overhaul or just a few changes, Vista Vending is available to help. We offer a wide variety of traditional and healthy snacks and beverages as well as contactless payment options to help keep everyone safe. For more information, please call us at (253) 592-2843. We look forward to hearing from you.

Keep Employees Hydrated in Seattle

Keep Employees Hydrated in Seattle

Keep Employees Hydrated in Seattle

With warmer weather on its way, Seattle employees need to make sure they stay cool and hydrated. Being dehydrated especially when it’s warm out can have a wide range of adverse effects from having trouble concentrating at work to other more serious heat-related illnesses. 

To remind everyone to remember to stay hydrated, June 23 is National Hydration Day. Created in honor of the inventor, Victor Hawkins, who developed a hydrating mouthguard, National Hydration Day focuses on encouraging everyone to drink plenty of hydrating beverages. Staying properly hydrated means that more water is going into the body than the amount of water that is leaving. Dehydration is the opposite. 

Thinking about staying hydrated isn’t just for employees who work outside, although it is especially important for them. Those who work indoors need to plan out how they are going to consume enough water too. Working in an air-conditioned environment can cause moisture to evaporate from the skin and lungs faster than it would otherwise. Drinking enough water is important for all Seattle individuals.

Severe dehydration is dangerous and can cause life-threatening medical conditions, but most Seattle employees only need to contend with a much milder form. For example, workplace productivity can be negatively impacted by dehydration because of a decrease in cognitive abilities, reduction in concentration and alertness, and slower reaction times, both mentally and physically.

Keep Employees Hydrated in Seattle

An easy way to decrease dehydration during the workday is to consume more water. If your employees are not a fan of plain water, try offering a slice of lemon or lime to add to their water, a favorite brand of flavored sparkling water or a cold glass of iced coffee or tea. Consuming water doesn’t always have to happen via a beverage. Many fruits and vegetables including watermelon, strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, lettuce, celery, cucumber, and tomatoes boost hydration because they contain higher amounts of water. They make great healthy snacks too.

Employers can help their employees stay hydrated year-round by offering a variety of sought-after cold beverages like water, iced or herbal tea or naturally flavored sparkling water in the break room. Whether there are vending machines, a micro-market, or a cashless pantry in your Seattle break room, it’s easy to customize your beverage menu to offer the refreshing and hydrating options your employees want. For more information about refreshment options including snacks, fresh food, and healthy options as well as office coffee service, please contact Vista Vending at (253) 592-2843.

Break Rooms Refuel Seattle

Break Rooms Refuel Seattle Employees

Break Rooms Refuel Seattle

The need for break rooms in Seattle businesses that are fully stocked with healthy and popular refreshment options has recently increased. Whether it’s a great cup of coffee, a sought-after snack or a healthy beverage, access to on-site refreshments has become very important, especially for essential employees.

Staying healthy is also important. While all fruits and vegetables offer great nutrients and vitamins, the go to vitamin for an immune system boost is Vitamin C. And a popular source for Vitamin C is orange juice. Orange growers in the U.S. usually see an increase in demand for orange juice every year during cold and flu season, but this year, it appears that the demand for orange juice will be ongoing.

Mike Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, recently explained that “orange juice is the most nutrient dense juice in the marketplace. Chuck-full, of course, with Vitamin C. There’s no question in my mind, there’s going to be a run on orange juice.”

Another beverage that can help keep the body healthy is water. Staying hydrated not only helps remove toxins from the body, but it also helps the muscles and joints to work better, keeps the body cool and supports the functions of many other systems.  

Break Rooms Refuel Seattle

Dehydration, on the other hand, can negatively influence the outcome of different parts of an employee’s day without them realizing it. For example, workplace productivity can be negatively impacted by dehydration because of a decrease in cognitive abilities, reduction in concentration and alertness, and slower reaction times, both mentally and physically.

The good news is that there are many different ways to offer hydrating beverages in Seattle break rooms. Cold beverage options might include bottled water, filtered water, sparkling water (flavored or plain), iced tea and sports beverages. A hot beverage menu might include tea or coffee, which not only hydrates but offers a caffeine boost. 

Break rooms should also offer something to eat with all of the beverage options. Whether it’s fresh food, a healthy snack or a traditional snack or treat, there should be a variety of choices in the break room that support both physical health and morale. (Everyone needs a special treat every now and then.)

Seattle employees’ needs have shifted because of the coronavirus. Vista Vending is here to assist essential employers during this difficult time by providing snacks, fresh food and beverages that will help recharge essential employees. For more information, please contact us at (253) 592-2843.

Healthy Options in Seattle

Encourage Healthy Lunch Habits at Seattle Businesses

Healthy Options in Seattle

How healthy is your heart? February may be best known for Valentine’s Day, but it is also American Heart Month, a time for Seattle individuals to reconsider their diet and exercise habits and the impact those habits have on the health of their heart.

Making good food choices is an important component of developing a healthy lifestyle but expecting to make good food choices all the time is unrealistic. Seattle individuals should instead be aware of the overall picture or pattern of their diet.

What does that mean? It’s being aware of the different types of snacks, food and beverages that are consumed. Is an individual eating a variety of nutritious foods from the different food groups? Are the portion sizes appropriate? It’s also noticing which circumstances like stress, fatigue or eating with friends trigger different types of eating patterns including unhealthy ones.

Lunch time is another event that can impact future food decisions that will be made throughout the rest of the day. A recent survey from the American Heart Association (AHA) and Aramark, a food service company, found that “more than three quarters of those surveyed say they’re more likely to make healthier decisions at other times of the day if they eat healthy at lunch.”

While those numbers are great news for the health of those surveyed, the likelihood that employees will actually eat a healthy lunch is much lower. The same survey also found that “56 percent of employed Americans who typically eat lunch during work struggle to make that meal healthy.” Seattle employers have just been presented with an opportunity to step in and make a difference in the types of snacks, fresh food and beverages available in the break room.

Healthy Options in Seattle

Two additional results from the AHA and Aramark study show that employees are looking for a bit of help; 82 percent of participants believe access to healthy options at work is important, and 68 percent appreciate their employer’s help in becoming healthier. Creating opportunities for regular exercise during the workday is another approach employers can take to help their Seattle employees become healthier.

Regular exercise not only helps maintain or lose weight, it also improves cardiovascular or heart health. If offering a gym membership or an onsite gym isn’t a realistic employee benefit, there are other ways employees can increase their physical activity during the workday. Taking a walk at lunch, parking further away from the building, using the stairs instead of the elevator and holding walking meetings are just a few ways employees can add a bit more movement to their day.

Employees who choose a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and lean proteins and increase physical activity often have less stress, more energy and improved confidence. Now that sounds like a benefit for everyone.

For more information about updating or redesigning your micro-market, pantry service or vending machine refreshment menu to include healthier options, please call Vista Vending at (253) 592-2843. We look forward to working with you.

Healthy Snacks in Seattle

Snacks in Seattle Get a Health Boost

Healthy Snacks in Seattle

Choosing healthy snacks is becoming easier for Seattle employers and students thanks to a new initiative by the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), a group of 12 leading global food and beverage companies.

According to a recent IFBA press release, the organization “is determined to innovate and optimize the composition of members’ products in order to help contribute to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) goal of eliminating industrially produced trans-fat (iTFA) from the global food supply by 2023.”

In other words, snacks and beverages, especially those made by IFBA companies, should have less artificial trans fats in them and be a lot healthier for Seattle consumers. 

What are trans fats, and why are they unhealthy?

Trans fats come in two forms: naturally occurring and artificial. Naturally occurring trans fats come from some animals, are found in smaller quantities and have been found to be beneficial. Artificial trans fats, on the other hand, are the result of a chemical process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils creating a solid product and are very unhealthy. 

Because artificial trans fats are inexpensive to produce, have a longer shelf life than other fats and add a desirable taste and texture, they have historically been used as an ingredient in a wide variety of processed foods such as pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies and crackers.

Healthy Snacks in Seattle

Consuming artificial trans fats increases Seattle individuals’ risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke because the artificial trans fats raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Artificial trans fats are also linked to long-term inflammation, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. 

Healthier Choices

For heart health, the American Heart Association suggests enjoying a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, poultry and fish. When freshly prepared food is not available such as in many Seattle break rooms, processed snacks made with unhydrogenated oil including canola, safflower, sunflower and olive oil are a great option. 

Vista Vending, a full-service break room refreshment company, would like to provide your business with a micro-market or vending machines full of delicious and healthy fresh food, snacks (with healthy fats) and beverages. For more information or to schedule a product sampling, please contact us at (253) 592-2843.

Healthy Options in Seattle

Seattle, Build a Healthy Lifestyle One Step at a Time

Healthy Options in Seattle

Staying healthy usually means something different to everyone whether it’s eating a certain way or participating in a favorite physical activity. As 2020 gets into full swing, let’s consider a super important but often forgotten organ that plays a huge role in everyone’s health – the lungs.

When a Seattle individual’s lungs don’t work properly, it can impact their health, and as a result, there can be a negative impact on all parts of their life including their job. One way to keep the lungs healthy is to exercise.

Exercise

The American Lung Association, a nonprofit organization that works to improve lung health and prevent lung disease, sponsors an annual event that not only helps raise funds for the organization but also highlights the importance of exercise for lung health. It’s called the Fight For Air Climb, and it honors National Take the Stairs Day.

During the stair-climbing event, participants, from running and fitness enthusiasts to people of all abilities, take the stairs instead of the elevator to get to the top floor in the event. Often, the buildings used for Fight For Air Climb are tall skyscrapers with many flights of stairs.

If attending an event like the Fight for Air Climb isn’t an option for Seattle employees, there are other ways to add small steps of exercise into one’s day such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the door, going on a walk during a lunch break and taking a stretch break during the workday. Regular exercise has other benefits as well. It boosts energy levels, improves muscle strength and increases the immune system’s ability to fight infections.

Healthy Options in Seattle

Diet

The type of food and beverages that a Seattle employee consumes can also have an impact on lung health. In addition to improving productivity and alertness, staying hydrated keeps the lungs working more effectively by thinning out linings located in the lungs. 

Portion size is another factor that can affect how well the lungs work. Not only can consistently eating portions that are too big cause weight gain, but they can also cause the stomach to be too full, decreasing the amount of space that the lungs have to expand. Healthy options to consider adding to one’s diet include lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

Consuming water and other hydrating beverages plus healthy snacks provides a lot of benefits that many individuals never need to consider. In 2020, Seattle employers have an opportunity to help their employees make healthier decisions by considering the types of snacks, beverages and fresh food that are offered in the break room. 

For more information about updating your refreshment menu to include healthier options, please contact Vista Vending at (253) 592-2843.

Healthy Options in Seattle

Offer Healthy and Sweet Treats in Seattle

Healthy Options in Seattle

Healthy treats and sweet treats are often perceived by many Seattle residents to be two very different things. One of them provides nutritional value while the other is full of unhealthy ingredients. But the term “healthy treat” doesn’t always have to refer to something that is a substitute for a preferred sweet treat. 

In fact, a treat doesn’t even need to be edible for it to be a treat. It might be purchasing music, fresh flowers, a new book, or new supplies for a favorite hobby. The most important thing is that the person who is enjoying it perceives it to be special and looks forward to the experience.

Treats, in all their forms, also help Seattle employees build new and maintain current healthy habits. According to Gretchen Rubin, author and happiness expert, “When we don’t get any treats, we start to feel deprived—and feeling deprived is a very bad frame of mind for good habits. When we feel deprived, we feel entitled to put ourselves back in balance…and feel entitled to break our good habits.”

A delicious and healthy sweet treat that employers can offer their Seattle employees, especially Millennials, is chocolate. While there are different types of chocolate consumers, Millennials, the largest generation in the workforce, tend to prefer a mix of dark, milk and white chocolate products made with high-quality cocoa by companies who value social/environmental stewardship. 

Chocolate also offers several health benefits. Made from different combinations of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, cocoa bean powder, sugar and milk powder, there are many options to choose from. Cocoa, the prime ingredient, contains antioxidants which benefits cardiovascular heath while flavonoids perform a variety of jobs such as helping control insulin sensitivity, improving blood flow, and protecting the skin against UV damage. 

Healthy Options in Seattle

Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa followed by milk chocolate then white chocolate. Milk chocolate contains a smaller percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter than dark chocolate plus milk powder and more sugar. While the milk powder and decreased amount of cocoa creates a smoother and sweeter chocolate, milk chocolate also has fewer flavonoids. White chocolate, made from sugar, milk, and a small amount of cocoa butter, doesn’t contain any flavonoids making it quite sweet. 

For chocolate to provide the most health benefits, it needs to be made with a higher percentage of cocoa, and avoid processing methods such as fermenting, alkalizing, and roasting that cause important flavonoids to be lost. Overall, sweet treats can be part of a balanced diet if Seattle employees pay attention to portion sizes and frequency of consumption.

To support your Seattle employees in making healthy “sweet treat” choices during their workday, it is important to create an environment where healthy options are the norm. Vista Vending would like to help your organization customize a healthy refreshments’ menu for your office break room with healthy snacks, beverages and fresh food.

For more information about our micro-market, vending machine or pantry service options, please call us at (253) 592-2843. 

Healthy Options in Seattle

Offer Healthy Snacks and Beverages Year-Round in Seattle

Healthy Options in Seattle

Making healthy decisions is always important, but for some, it is even more important as the days get shorter and darker. Whether it’s rain or snow, fall and winter weather can impact everyone. The decrease in sunlight throughout the fall and the increase in time spent indoors as it gets colder or rainier can cause the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs of SAD include lower energy levels, increased moodiness, oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain and trouble concentrating.  

It’s not just the lack of sunshine causing winter blues and poor productivity; what Seattle individuals put in their bodies plays a role too. Sugary quick fixes might provide a short-term energy boost, but in the long run, they are not helpful. 

For many, there is a tool available to help combat SAD; serotonin. Made from the amino acid tryptophan, serotonin is most often found in the digestive system. To maintain a healthy amount serotonin in the body, Seattle individuals must consume tryptophan via their diet. 

Research also supports a decreased risk of experiencing depression when eating a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the western diet isn’t always considered to be a healthy diet. To maintain healthy levels of serotonin (and a healthy diet), it is important to enjoy foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are vital for serotonin production. 

Seven foods to enjoy during the winter to help combat SAD

Avocado: This fruit is rich in vitamin B6 (and other b-vitamins), which is needed for serotonin production. It is also high in fiber, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, which all contain great mood impacting nutrients.

Bananas: Rich in potassium and fiber, bananas also contain vitamins A, B6 and C; phosphorous; iron and tryptophan – the serotonin level boosting amino acid.

Berries: This colorful group of fruits is high in fiber and important antioxidants, which support the nervous system. While fiber does not directly produce serotonin, it plays an important role in the overall production process. Fiber is an important factor for good bacteria production in the gut, and since 90 percent of serotonin is generated in the gut, a healthy gut is very important.

Healthy Options in Seattle

Dark Chocolate: High in nutrients and antioxidants, dark chocolate, made with a minimum of 70 percent cocoa solids, impacts serotonin on two levels. Enjoying any favorite food increases endorphins which in turn boost serotonin levels. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, a necessary nutrient for serotonin production.

Eggs: A great source of amino acids including tryptophan, eggs also contain vitamin D and healthy fats. Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D is important as low levels of vitamin D are connected to depression.

Almonds: As with dark chocolate, almonds are a great source of magnesium. Research has shown that magnesium plays an important role in regulating neurological pathways, and a deficiency can increase the chance of developing depression.

Spinach: Full of plant-based iron and mood-boosting B vitamins such as folate, vitamins B3, B6 and B12, spinach is a great leafy vegetable that supports serotonin production. Even though most dark leafy greens including spinach are not a favorite snack, they are a great addition to smoothies, egg dishes and soups. 

Some of the above foods may not taste the best when enjoyed on their own, but they can be enjoyed as part of a recipe.

An easy way to encourage Seattle employees to enjoy healthy foods while at work and increase endorphins is to host a healthy breakfast party in the break room. Instead of letting everyone know ahead of time, make it a surprise party for an additional endorphin boost. Offer healthy options like yogurt parfaits with berries or bananas topped with almonds, acai smoothie bowls, fresh fruit, dark chocolate oatmeal breakfast bars, cocoa banana muffins or a coffee bar. 

Whether you’re interested in modifying your current break room menu or completely redesigning it, Vista Vending can help. We offer a variety of break room options including office coffee service, vending options and healthy choices. For more information, please contact us at (253) 592-2843.

Seattle Pantry Service

Pantry Service in Seattle Offers Multiple Benefits

Seattle Pantry Service

Everyone needs to feel appreciated, including Seattle employees. Providing pantry service in the workplace break room is just one way to express employee appreciation. While each organization in Seattle has a different culture, there are several things that create a universal feeling of appreciation and are enjoyed by almost everyone.

How to Show Appreciation

The first one applies specifically to the break room. Ask for your employees’ opinions about which snacks, beverages and fresh food they would like to have available in the pantry service

Also connected to the break room, would be to survey everyone about the type of environment or vibe they want in their break room. The right combination of refreshments at no cost plus a welcoming environment is sure to encourage employees to stay on-site when they need to re-hydrate or grab a bite to eat. 

The next three ways to show appreciation don’t have to be connected to the break room, but they can be. Offer employees special treats or meals that aren’t usually available in the break room such as ‘Waffle Wednesday’ or ‘Freshly Baked Cookie Friday.’ Donuts from a favorite bakery or popular pizza are also great options.

In the non-food arena, giving employees who have gone above what was expected extra time off acknowledges their effort and time. Not acknowledging their time and effort can silently convey to everyone that they, the employees and their coworkers, receive no benefit for putting in the extra work.

Another way to express appreciation is to perform random acts of kindness. Everyone has heard the story about one person in line purchasing a coffee for the person behind them. To the person who received the coffee, the experience was a random act of kindness. The same can be done for your Seattle employees. A simple thank you note or someone’s favorite snack are acts of kindness that show appreciation.

Seattle Pantry Service

Why Show Appreciation

At the surface, expressing appreciation for your Seattle employees improves engagement, retention and motivation, especially during the holiday season. But dig a bit deeper and see a positive impact on employee work/life balance. 

In a recent article published by O.C. Tanner, “Showing gratitude can increase a person’s wellness, increase better sleep habits, increase metabolism and lessen stress. This directly impacts work results and employee interaction. With employee appreciation, you’re not only boosting performance and engagement, but the employee’s well-being and health.”

Drill down a bit further to the core and find that increased appreciation causes more positive interactions which then has even more positive ripple effects moving outward. That sounds like a good thing for everyone.

While Vista Vending can’t perform random acts of kindness directly for your Seattle employees, we can help you customize the perfect break room. Whether it’s pantry service, a micro-market or coffee service, your employees will know that you appreciate all that they do. For more information, please call Vista Vending at (253) 592-2843.