Sunday, July 18, 2004

Look Who's Talking: Tyrone Hill

An assist to nutrition

Tyrone Hill's new company, All-Star Vending, offers nutritional alternatives.
NBA veteran Tyrone Hill and Cincinnati businessman Felix Maye are no strangers to food sales at Withrow High School. As students there in 1983, Hill and Maye sold candy, snacks and $2.50 ham-and-cheese sandwiches - a slice of tomato cost extra - to classmates. They made $50 a week. This year Hill and Maye returned to the school to sell food. But instead of sandwiches made with mom's lunchmeat, their 20 All-Star Vending machines offer juices, sports drinks, salty snacks, popcorn and oat bars. Withrow was the first school to install All-Star's vending machines. Hill, chief executive, and Maye, president, hope to bring the vending machines - and jobs for students - to other schools in Cincinnati and the nation. A $500,000 warehouse in Madisonville also is planned. Hill spoke to the Enquirer about the company's plans.

YOUR NBA CAREER WAS 22,000 minutes of intense focus and concentration. As a pro athlete, you know how critical nutrition is for peak performance.

I got into it early, my second or third year. I don't have pork in my diet at all. I got away from red meat. I don't eat much fried food. At breakfast, I eat turkey sausage, egg whites, wheat toast or pancakes, and for lunch or dinner, it's baked fish, baked potatoes, chicken, salads and pasta.

Nutrition is so important. Kids have juvenile diabetes. There's a lot who are overweight, and obesity works on a kid's self-esteem. I figure if we can get these kids eating right, and at an early age, it will bring them discipline and good habits.

WHAT'S THE APPEAL to a school of All-Star Vending?

Besides healthy foods and drinks, we will do seminars. I'll come in and speak to the kids. I'm a public figure. I'm from the Cincinnati Public Schools system. I grew up in Cincinnati. And I want to let them see that they can do it. I want them to have pride in themselves. ... They'll see how important it is to eat right. Good habits stick with you.

WHAT YOU'VE DONE at Withrow, will you do that at every school: PowerBars, percentages of proceeds from the vending machine, uniforms? A golf outing planned for each school for scholarships?

Yes. We haven't got the numbers down yet, but we want to generate other monies for schools. It's hard to say how much can be raised with a golf event, but we are going to do it. I don't think anybody else is doing that. Kids need to have goals: good attendance and straight A's bring a $1,000 grant. That's what I'm reaching for with this.

John Eckberg

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