The Herd

The Case for Vending Machines

Meghan Lynch, Guest Writer

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Student accessible vending machines with healthy options should be required in every school in order to improve the physical, mental, and emotional well being of students. The early start times of most schools make it extremely difficult for students to pack sufficient meals for the day. School cafeterias provide snacks as well as meals for the students; however, they are often open for a couple of hours, at most, each day. Vending machines are a quick and easy way to purchase wholesome foods at any time, reducing the issues that result from a lack of proper nutrition.

Many of these issues are most concerning to student-athletes who, after school, may not have enough food to get them through their practices or games. For instance, in order to prevent injury, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are vital. A student participating in physical activity without these nutritional components is more prone to muscle damage, fatigue, cramps/soreness, fainting spells, and a prolonged recovery period. However, students fueled with the proper nutritional elements, can improve their endurance and decrease their recovery period. With this in mind, the demand for a food outlet that provides students with an all-day access to proper nourishment becomes apparent. The benefits will not only create a safer environment within school established sports programs, but will also promote the students’ physical performances.

Vending machines could offer a multitude of benefits to students; however, installing them into schools may prompt a debate regarding the topic of health. One may argue that food outlets such as vending machines provide unhealthy food options, thereby diminishing their benefits to students. However, it is a misconception that these outlets can only sell snacks high in sugar, fat or sodium. With encouragement from the school’s administration and nutrition board, snacks provided in the vending machines could be as healthy as meals served in the cafeteria. The way to approach this goal is to substitute unhealthy snacks for healthier alternatives. Baked potato chips, instead of regular chips, contain low sodium and are a great source of fiber. Protein bars, instead of chocolate bars, contain less fat and are a strong source of protein. Dried fruit, instead of fruit snacks, contain less sugar and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is also easy to substitute many of the less healthy snacks such as cheese puffs and pretzels with whole wheat, reduced fat/sodium or fat-free versions. In addition to these healthy alternatives, vending machines with the capability to refrigerate their contents, would allow for a wider selection of healthy food options. As a result, traditionally healthy foods such as yogurt, cheese, fruits and vegetables become as available as any other snack. By integrating these healthier food options into schools, students can be supplied with important dietary requirements, allowing them to perform at their best.

In addition, students perform better academically when they are well fed. Teenagers require a well-rounded diet in order to support healthy bone growth as well as proper brain development. A 2016 study published by the journal Medicine, reported that students who consume healthy snacks throughout the day perform better than those who do not. By offering vending machine access all day, RSU 21 can provide nutritionally beneficial food sources that allow their students to improve academically.

As an added bonus, a proper diet can affect more than just students’ GPA It is shown to have an impact on their emotional state as well. In the 2014 edition of the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers remark that consumption of nutritious foods lowers anxiety, emotional distress and improves mood. School is perceived as an environment pervaded with anxiety, stress, negativity, and pressure to achieve academically. To counter this issue, school administrations should consider installing vending machines to provide students with easy access to nourishment capable of benefiting their academic and emotional states.

This addition is likely to improve school life for a variety of students, from athletes competing in sports to members of after school or early morning clubs, to those who just didn’t have time for breakfast. Providing them with all-day access to nutritional food options will improve their physical, mental, and emotional health, creating a better and more effective school experience for every student.

 

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Kennebunk High School's quarterly magazine
The Case for Vending Machines