Day-old bread from your pantry no longer has to be the main course for the ducks in Soddy-Daisy. City leaders want to make birds that dwell on area lakes a bit healthier by installing vending machines that dispense special food. And it's going to help with another issue--feces.

The machines will be installed at Holly Circle Park and at Soddy Lake Park and will dispense specially made food that mimics the natural diet of the birds.

Todd Howard, president of Vaulted Vending, the machine manufacturer, explains.

"These pellets are made out of protein and all of the vitamins--B, C, A--that these organisms need and that God made them to digest," says Howard.

He also says bread causes indigestion and sometimes death if eaten in large amounts over time.
"It's just a filler, so all it does is flow though them. That's when you get the excess feces on the banks and on the walking trails," explains Howard.

This isn't pleasant or healthy for people, either. So the special food lowers the amount of what comes out the birds to normal levels and keeps more of it off land.

It also keeps the birds in the water where they belong, as opposed to crossing roads, endangering their lives.

For a quarter you get a handful of food from the machine and toss into the lake. What isn't eaten is biodegradable and the creatures don't come onto land looking for food.
After a surprise appearance by Howard during the citizens participation portion at Thursday night's city commission meeting in Soddy-Daisy, five of the seven commissioners were there and unanimously voted to have the machines installed.

"There's no cost to the city of Soddy-Daisy at all. And actually it's a win-win situation. We get to split half the profits with this company," says city Vice Mayor Rick Nunley. He is also a commissioner and board chairman of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Nunley adds that the funds will go to the Parks and Recreation Department for maintenance and other improvements.

Drew Mansell, father of two young boys who love feeding the ducks, is happy to hear about the new effort.

"Soddy-Daisy's put a lot into their parks the last few years. Any extra money they can get  to improve them even more would be great," says Mansell.

Nunley anticipates positive results and hopes for full participation.

"I think once word gets out and people see it's a good thing, then it'll be good for everybody," says Nunley.

Vaulted Vending is based in Sevierville, Tennessee and had installed it's machines at several facilities in east Tennessee and Georgia over the past few years with great success, according to Howard. He says the ones for Soddy-Daisy should be available the week of March 17.