Vending & Concessions
Health can mean wealth
Oh, that sneaky vending machine. Beckoning you every time you pass the employee kitchen. It offers the same temptation to students as they pass it on their way to classes. Vending machines and concession stands are commonplace around schools, especially middle and high schools, but also in elementary schools.
Vending machines and concession stands serve several purposes (see Fundraisers/Competitive Foods). Both bring much needed revenue for the school to support good academic and even healthy programs. Vending machines provide convenient solutions for staff and students who may not have packed a snack for school, while concession stands provide options for students who might not otherwise get a meal, like dinner, at home.
But health can mean wealth. When it comes to these competitive food sources in school, start the conversation by acknowledging good intentions and the need to raise money. Then see how you can work with school administrators and food service to improve the offerings.
- Encourage products (in the school and the teachers’ lounge) to meet the Smart Snacks standards, even if the machines are only accessible to students after policy hours. Compromise and push for 75% Smart Snack items. Track how well different snacks do so you can make a stronger case.
- Work with your school nutrition department. Understand that school nutrition staff are responsible for covering their budget through the food they sell at school. It’s a business. However, their goal is to grow healthy kids and make enough money to keep the lights on at the same time. Keep this in mind as you begin having discussions with food service staff. Through collaborative approaches, you can work together to find a healthier balance will benefit kids and still allow nutrition services to remain in the red.
- Ask if the vendors will “buy back” unused packaged products.
- Shamelessly promote! Work with your school health team, school administration and food service to ideate ways to promote healthier snack options. Involve students and poll them on what healthy snacks to offer. See Education & Promotion for more ideas!
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