More vending machines with healthy offerings implemented around campus

November 15, 2019 — by Esther Luan and Kaasha Minocha

Why the school decided to implement "healthy" vending machines and how cafeteria sales have been affected.

Due to new tutorial regulations that prevent students from buying food during this instructional time, two vending machines have been added on campus. These newly implemented vending machines sell a variety of “healthy” snacks and beverages. 

Last year, the cafeteria was open for all 35 minutes of tutorial. This year, with the new tutorial regulations, the cafeteria only has the last 10 minutes to feed students. 

“We can’t feed everybody in that amount of time,” cafeteria head Pam Carlino said.

With the addition of these machines, the administration hoped to increase availability and make it easier for students to buy food and still get to their classes on time, assistant principal Matt Torrens said.

Students have reacted positively.

“[The machines] mean I don’t necessarily have to walk all the way to the cafeteria,” sophomore Paula Nguyen said. “It  makes buying food a lot more efficient and allows me to spend more time on homework or talking with friends.”

A California State Law that regulates vending machines on high school campuses states that all products in these machines have certain limit for sugar, protein and fat content. 

But when the machines were first implemented on campus, sugary soda drinks were being sold, such as Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. After three days, the administration realized that the law was being broken and removed these items. 

Another issue that often arises with these machines is that they break down quite often. According to Torrens, however, many of these problems are caused by students themselves.

“With the new tutorial, the vending machines get a lot more use, and I’d say around half of the issues with them breaking down are caused by students not doing what they’re supposed to do,” Torrens said. “It could be a card put in backwards, or a student who jams in too many coins at once.”

He said approximately half of the breakdowns are caused by processing issues in the machines because of the way students input their money, he said. 

“We have someone come out every day to look at them, so if a machine is broken, it’ll be fixed the next day,” he said.

Regarding the pricing, however, the administration has no say, Torrens said; it is decided solely by the vendor. And while 85 percent of the revenue goes directly to the vendor, the remaining 15 percent goes to the school cafeteria to compensate for the potential loss in sales due to the time constraint restricting the number of students they can serve during tutorial.

Surprisingly, the implementation of these vending machines haven’t hurt the cafeteria’s bottom line. In fact, cafeteria sales have gone up, even  as some have complained about the cafeteria raising recently its prices. Carlino said lunch sales have helped make up for the reduction in sales during tutorial. 

Since the cafeteria feeds about 600 students a day, which is about half of the school, Carlino said, the consistent number of students who buy lunch at the increased prices coupled with the 15 percent of revenue obtained from the machines, conpensates for the loss of sales during tutorial that the administration and cafeteria were initially concerned about.

The price distribution between products from the cafeteria and vending machines vary. Some products from the machines are cheaper than the cafeteria and others are more expensive. Though some might regard the vending machine’s prices as expensive — for instance, they sell some drinks for $2.00 — students still buy certain popular items. 

“I use [the machines] a lot more compared to last year, since there are more vending machines around campus now,” sophomore Cindy Jin said. “I can avoid staying in line for that one vending machine in the cafeteria which many students go to.”

The machines have been active for several weeks now and have proven to be a viable option for students. 

“The nice thing about vending machines is that you can get food when the cafeteria is closed,” Carlino said. “That means you can buy food through tutorial and even before and after school. It gives students more food options, which is always a benefit.”