As the Shelby County School (SCS) board prepares to vote on whether or not to bring vending machines into their schools, parents and students have mixed feelings; and for good reason. Vending machines have traditionally been stocked with candy, chips, soda, and other junk foods high in fat, sugar, and carbs.
However, if the proposal is approved, the SCS plans to stock their vending machines with healthy choices for not just snacks, but for breakfast and lunch as well, something that is catching on across the country. These healthy vending machines in schools would be stocked daily by special education students. This means that while the food is guaranteed fresh, those students who stock the machines are learning job skills as well.
So why the idea of having a school vending machine in the first place? According to Kevin Woods, a Shelby School board member, “This is not to eliminate any possible positions, it’s just simply to allow more people to get through the process quicker and to have more options without having to wait in long lines”.
If the proposal goes through, the vending machines would be tested in White Station, Whitehaven, and Wood Dale schools by offering free lunches. This could also ease the minds of some parents and students who are less than enthusiastic about getting school lunch from a vending machine.
However, some vending machine companies, such as Healthier Vending, do in fact offer healthy school breakfast, lunch, and snack programs that not only encourage healthier choices, but also encourage academic achievement all while meeting any school’s nutritional requirements.
For example, Iowa started the Healthy Kids Act to help eliminate childhood obesity by offering healthy vending machine in their elementary, middle and high schools. Healthy vending machines selling drinks, for example, offer nonfat and low fat milk, vegetable juice, and 100 percent fruit juice instead of sugary juices and sodas.
Although it is not known for sure exactly what items would go in the vending machine if they were approved, some of the more popular items we now see in snack vending machines throughout the country are healthy granola bars and Cliff bars as well as yogurt. Healthy drink vending machines also see the V8 brand vegetable and fruit juices as well as water. For lunch, options may include a fresh salad, freshly made sandwich, soup, and a variety of fruit. For breakfast, options may include cereal, breakfast sandwiches and also a variety of fresh fruit.
While school vending machines may be something both parents and students will need to get use to, the fact remains that they save time, money, and in the end, offer more options and healthier choices. The future’s alternative to the traditional lunch line has become healthy vending machines in schools.
Schools are getting rid of the lunch line in favor of healthy vending machines.