Today started with a bang! Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and American Beverage Association President & CEO Susan Neely announced a new initiative on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to promote healthy, balanced and active lifestyles.

The new Calories Count™ Vending Program is an exciting public-private partnership to provide clear calorie information on vending machines, encourage lower-calorie beverage choices and remind consumers that “calories count” in all the choices they make. This program will be launch in 2013 on more than 500 vending machines in municipal buildings in Chicago and San Antonio.

Our industry is committed to being part of meaningful solutions to help reduce obesity.  As such, we are always interested in exploring ways to work with elected officials and other stakeholders in this effort.

For example, we’ve worked with former President Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and the U.S. Conference of Mayors on previous programs and initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles and choices.  Working with Mayor Emanuel and Mayor Castro, both of whom are deeply committed to addressing obesity in their communities, simply made sense.  After all, Chicago is the third largest city in the country by population, and San Antonio isn’t too far behind at seventh.  With large and diverse populations, these cities provided a substantial way to launch the vending program in a substantive way.  Furthermore, our industry has a strong presence in these communities, not only as businesses but as residents, parents and family members of city employees.   The opportunity to work with them was one worthy of exploring – and worthy of our commitment.

You can view a sample vending snipe and read more about the program on our “We Deliver” website, which can be accessed at By providing choice and information, we will once again help consumers make the beverage selection that is best for them.