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Healthy Vending Machines in Schools: Is it an Option?

October 4, 2011

When given a choice, students at a Long Island high school opt for chips over carrots and soda over smoothies. Vending machines filled with junk food have been a staple in school hallways for decades. But now, childhood obesity and healthy school food are the subjects that government and school officials are focused on, and the United States Agriculture Department must set nutrition standards for school vending machines in public schools by the end of next year.

In the eyes of the average teenager, apple slices and baby carrots can hardly compete with the flashy packaging of junk foods when placed side by side. How do schools make healthy snack options in vending machines appealing to students?  When “healthy snacks” receive a bad rap, CEO of Human Healthy Vending Sean Kelly credits promotions like digital messages, free samples and contests to his machines’ sales increases over the past year.

 “You cannot just take a standard vending machine, throw graphics on it, put some healthier options in there, and expect everything to work out perfectly,” says Kelly in a New York Times article.

Some kids are catching on, however. As quoted in the Times article, Zach, a junior at Commack High School, opted for baby carrots over potato chips and said, “It’s a good idea,” and senior Marissa said she tells her mom her snack choice instead of the usual “don’t worry about it.”

For more info on how to help your kids make healthy choices at school, see our recent post 90 Percent of Moms Agree: Pack a Healthy School Lunch for Your Kids.