Fishback Financial Corporation (FFC) is one of South Dakota’s largest privately-held bank holding companies with 17 First Bank & Trust locations. The organization has a history that dates back more than 130 years. FFC Headquarters in Brookings was chosen as one of 13 worksites in SD for the Healthier Vending & Snack Bar (HVSB) pilot project in July 2014.
The goal of the HVSB project is to implement policy, system, and environmental change to improve the food environment by making healthier choices more accessible, more appealing, and more affordable. The project requires snack food and drink items be categorized using the green, yellow, and red traffic light system known as the Munch Code and to make the calorie content for all items visible at the point of purchase.
FFC’s worksite wellness committee, the Healthy Way Committee, focused on making changes to the break room available to both corporate and First Bank & Trust branch employees. The break room originally consisted of a kitchenette, small area with healthier snacks made available by the Healthy Way Committee and three vending machines; 1 snack and 2 pop machines stocked with predominantly red products.
The committee started the project in July 2014 and worked through a variety of challenges. Even with these barriers they kept focused and motivated and in November 2016, after two and half years, were able to replace 2 of the unhealthy vending machines with a healthy snack bar. They also implemented a Healthier Vending & Snack Bar Policy to sustain their hard work! FFC received resources, Munch Code signs and technical assistance but no financial funding showing their impeccable commitment and the crucial support from upper management to make the project successful!
Challenges & Barriers
The first challenge was communication with the vending machine vendor. After explanation of the HVSB project and several meetings, the vendor was still unable to supply them with the healthier options they were looking for. This led to the decision to remove 2 of the 3 vending machines and have the Healthy Way Committee expand the snack bar area as remodeling the break room was already in the works. The original break room remodel completion date was June 1, 2015. Unfortunately, the project completion date was pushed back several times delaying progress.
Upon completion of the break room in the summer of 2016, the next challenge was finding time to shop and stock all of the necessary items without having to read labels and calculate the Munch Code category while at the store—eating up precious time. Throughout the process, staff changes and reallocation of project management added another hurdle.
The new snack bar consists of a glass front refrigerator and color-coded baskets that were purchased through funds tied to the remodel. The glass front refrigerator allows employees to easily see the new healthier options available to them such as fruit, vegetables, yogurt, cheese and drinks other than pop. The colored coded baskets match the Munch Code category with signage available to state calorie content. With two of the vending machines removed, it limited the red options to a minimal percentage and increased green and yellow choices.
FFC is now utilizing Hy-Vee’s “Online Aisles” which allows for online shopping and grocery delivery on a weekly basis. This provides the capability to view all products’ ingredient list and nutrition fact label helping to determining the green, yellow, or red category before purchasing and to save products on a favorites list for later ordering, all while at the convenience of their office desk. It saves time and helps with the accuracy of color-coding the items.
The Healthy Way Committee utilized innovative solutions to overcome multiple barriers and even with the project changing hands multiple times, they remained focused and committed to reach their goal of a healthier food environment for employees.
“Being able to create something that continues to benefit our employees is what keeps this project alive and fun!”
– Arielle Cole, Human Resource Specialist
Success with Employees
FFC received great feedback from employees stating that they have enjoyed the variety and accessibility. The only bad feedback was that the red colored snacks were too hard to reach since they were on the top shelf, showing they are taking steps in the right direction and that it is effective to put the healthier items at eye level. Employee willingness to offer feedback on desired products also helped to make the new snack bar successful and utilized to its full potential.
“I just love the fact that I can go grab some grapes or an orange if I get hungry and I’m no longer bee-lining for an unhealthy snack in a vending machine.”
–First Bank & Trust Employee
An employee survey showed that many employees were open to having healthier options in the break room. 86% of those surveyed said they would utilize the vending machines more if there were healthier options available and 69% said they would be willing to pay more for healthier options.
“Our employees have grasped the concept and are happy to reach for a healthy snack. It’s easy when everything is laid out in front of you.”
–Arielle Cole, Human Resource Specialist
Table 1 shows the distribution of items of each Munch Code color category at FFC before and after implementation of the HVSB Project and Figure A shows this distribution visually in a bar chart. The percentage of green items increased from 10.4% to 43.2%, while the percentage of red items decreased from 77.1% to 20.5%!
Table 1. Distribution of food items by the Munch Code, before and after HVSB project implementation
Figure A. Bar chart of distribution of food items by the Munch Code, before and after HVSB project implementation
FFC will continue to search for new snack items to keep things fresh, keep the employees motivated and excited about the program, and welcome feedback from employees. The long term goal is to expand to other locations starting with the Brookings Main location.