LIVINGSTON COUNTY – The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming and Wegmans Food Markets are jointly offering healthy new snacks in vending machines across Livingston County while also providing employment for people with disabilities.
According to a press release from the Arc, their Hilltop facility and the Livingston County Health Department in Mount Morris have healthy vending machines stocked with chips, snack bars, sodas and other food and drink options that meet the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s ‘FitPick’ guidelines for lowered calories, fat, and sugar.
“The Arc and Wegmans are really becoming a unified team to accomplish some very important ‘Eat Well, Live Well’ initiatives and community projects in this area,” says Geneseo Wegmans Store Manager Charlie Hasty.
Hilltop vending workers, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, partner with Wegmans personnel to keep the machines stocked.
Key players in this project include Hasty, as well as Arc Executive Director Martin Miskell, Wegmans Community Relations Specialist Angel Lynch, Hilltop Vending Worker Zach George, Job Coach Sara Coombs, and Livingston County Workforce Development’s Mary Guldenschuh.
“We love working with The Arc, period,” said Lynch. “But this one is an especially worthy project. We work closely every week to order items that are healthy and taste good, and we love being part of something that creates jobs. This is what Wegmans is all about.”
The new vending machine in the Government Center is seeing the best traffic. Unsweetened pure leaf tea, Diet Coke, chips, and some of the protein and breakfast bars are popular.
“We operate workshops for the full day,and our customers didn’t have access to the employee-only lounge,” said Guldenschuh. “We wanted to give them an option for healthy snacks while they were here for that extended day.”
Hilltop was founded in 1974 by Livingston and Wyoming county parents to provide work and vocational rehabilitation services to people with developmental disabilities. Workers, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will be keeping the snack-conscious machines chock-full.
Hilltop Vending provides job opportunities to two individuals with disabilities, who completed the Arc’s comprehensive vocational rehabilitation program. The program currently serves approximately 350 people through vocational and day habilitation programs, as stated on the Arc’s website.
The project equips workers with additional employment options. “I used to work in the Hilltop work center, but this is a better fit for me,” says George. “Someday, I would like to have my own vending company, so this is good experience.”
The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming is a private, not-for-profit organization providing services to developmentally disabled individuals and their families in the counties of Livingston and Wyoming.