Vending Machine Mishaps


Jessica Gavin, Contributor

There is a detrimental problem with the vending machines at Nashoba: they have not been used to their full potential! Unfortunately, the majority of products sold in vending machines are snack foods like chips and Poptarts. This isn’t a bad thing, because they are typical vending machine foods. They appeal to students’ junk food cravings, but they are really taking up space that could be used for more filling, and healthy foods that will keep students happy and healthy. It really wouldn’t be too difficult to take advantage of this.

Essentially, the purpose of the vending machines around the school is to provide a place to buy food during and after school hours. So why not store healthy, portable snacks in the vending machines? More often than not, students bring in these kinds of healthy fuels, especially athletes who regularly may have to stay after school. Teenagers are knowledgeable about what they should put in their bodies. Hopefully, so are their parents, who buy their food in most cases.

During school, students with money in their lunch accounts can buy goods at the “Snack Shack.” This is a great opportunity for students to purchase food throughout the morning and up until the end of fourth lunch. However, this is not open after school, nor can students buy products at it during lunch if they only have paper money. The vending machines could be so beneficial during times where the Snack Shack is closed and/or lunch is not being served.

Not to mention, the scheduled twenty three minute lunch is often ample time for those who bring lunch, but in a crowded lunch where dozens of students need to purchase food, that time can quickly get trimmed down. Students may not be able to finish their lunch (if they buy it at all, which is another issue in itself), but they could purchase portable snacks from the vending machine after lunch if they had study or were in need of them.

No matter the store bought or bulk price of an item, the markup can yield quite a profit for the school if traditional markup pricing of around 50% is followed. With this in mind, vending machines could potentially be filled with healthier snacks like dried fruit or fruit leather, trail mix, Pirate’s Booty, popcorn, muffins, healthy granola bars, and protein energy bars. They tend to cost more at face value but if traffic could be increased through better options and sell enough, there would still be enough of a profit earned.

Even just having an experimental vending machine filled with these foods might really help Nashoba’s perspective on what are the optimal, most purchased snacks. After one of the machines broke in the cafeteria, another was installed with slightly healthier options. It shows progression that can for sure be taken further. However, this new machine was out of order within a week.

To help with the upkeep, a systematic way to maintain the vending machines and what they are stocked with should be implemented. Often, they may be under-stocked or not functioning. A flag system that is similar to the one used on mailboxes may be helpful to alert maintenance workers or food directors that that machine needs to be fixed or refilled. If the school can improve the options of food available in its vending machine, it could have a positive effect on the happiness and the health of Nashoba’s students.