A New Age of School Snacking Arrives at BHS

The new vending machine in the BHS cafeteria offers healthy options

The new vending machine in the BHS cafeteria offers healthy options

by Namita Arunkumar
BHS News

It happens to everybody during the school day; that time when the stomach grumbles in protest and it becomes impossible to focus on anything but keeping the sounds of your angry stomach quiet. Needless to say, during times like these, snacks are a godsend. Vending machines at school help keep the hunger at bay, but a new kind of vending machine is putting a new twist on school-time snacking.

It’s obvious that the new vending machine in the cafeteria is not like the other ones at BHS. Bright yellow and parked right next to the condiment table, it is quite hard to miss. With a wide selection of organic and health conscious choices at higher prices than the others, the new vending machine is raising a lot of questions from students. Ms. Ahrenholz, who is the Director of Food Services and Nutrition for Braintree Public Schools, was willing to answer some questions.

What motivated the school to install a new vending machine?
I had seen Berkshire Naturals, the company that had the machine, at one of the School Nutrition Association shows. The vending machine had a lot of healthy items, and everything in it meets nutrition guidelines for the Competitive Food Law for Massachusetts in terms of calories, sodium, portion size, etc. It’s an easy way for students to eat healthy and it gives students some different options.

Would you say that it’s been a success so far?
It’s hard to say because the machine was only put in on November 8, but it definitely seems as though it could become a success in the future. There have been some issues with some dollar jams, and if this happens I encourage students to come to me and I will refund their money. On the whole, I’ve seen a lot of kids looking at it and waiting in line to buy snacks from it, so things are looking good for the machine.

I’ve heard some complaints that the snacks cost too much money. Any thoughts?
This vending machine is the only machine that the Braintree Food Services does not own. Berkshire Nationals owns this machine, and so they get to set the prices and they take part of the profit from the machine. Unfortunately, I have no control over these prices.

Do you think this machine will stick around for a while?
I hope so. It’s mostly the company’s decision because they need to make money, and if they’re not making enough money they might want to pull it out. Hopefully, the machine will stay for a while.

Will there eventually be more of these vending machines?
I guess we’ll have to see. It depends on the company and how successful this vending machine is. We might add one of these to the gym lobby, or we might even add a new school owned machine with different snacks for one people come to school events like basketball games and community education classes.

It seems as though this new kind of vending machine marks a new era of snacking at schools. The sodas and sugary snacks are out, and the seltzer waters and fruit sticks are in. Slowly but surely, the school is changing how and what the students eat. The general consensus of the students to the machine was mixed. Said one sophomore when asked her opinion of the prices of the vending machine, “I wouldn’t buy food from the machine unless I absolutely had to. It’s too much money to spend on one snack.” This seemed to be the attitude of most students towards the prices, but most agreed that the snacks looked good and that they would try them if it weren’t so expensive.

Could this vending machine symbolize a new age of school snacking? Right now, it seems as if these unconventional snacks (as well as their high price tags) may be raising some eyebrows, but in a time where organic anything seems to be the panacea for many people, don’t get too comfortable with your secret stash of Oreos and Lays. Organic Cookies and Turkey Jerky are in.