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Carrot-Only Vending Machines in High School Cafeterias

Carrot-Only Vending Machines in High School Cafeterias

Two high schools — one in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the other in Syracuse, New York — are participating in a vending machine experiment aimed at changing the snacking habits of teens. 

Sponsored by the California group, A Bunch of Carrot Farmers, the schools placed vending machines selling baby carrots in their cafeterias. The goal of the experiment: to see if teens’ snack habits can be influenced if healthy alternatives are marketed the way junk food is.

Student Reaction 

According to the vice principal of the Ohio school, the students responded to the new option within an hour of its arrival. And the school utilized the machines in their consumer classes by having students come up with marketing strategies to promote the sale of carrots.

What’s it Costing Schools?

At fifty cents a bag, the 3 oz. carrot snack is less costly than other snack food options and, as most parents already know, cute and coifed is the way to entice children to eat carrots in the first place.

The vending machines are essentially free. A Bunch of Carrot Farmers supplied the machines, the produce, and will pay for all the associated utility bills during the two-month test period. All proceeds from the sales go directly to the schools.

Vending Machine Revenue is Necessary

Over the last decade, vending machines in general have become a source of revenue for schools, as funding for extracurricular programs vanished in the wake of budget cuts at all levels. Though most school officials agree the food and drink options offered by vendors are not the healthiest, they are reluctant to give up the money generated by an essentially captive consumer.

Future Plans

There are no future plans for the carrot machines beyond the two-month experiment, though the Carrot Farmers have hopes of expanding to include more schools. 

What Do You Think?

As a teacher, I didn’t look favorably on vending machines. I felt we were taking advantage of the students — giving them mostly unlimited access to snacks encouraged mindless eating. I taught students who ate literally non-stop, all day long.

Does your school have vending machines? What happens to the money it makes? What would happen to your school’s extracurricular programs or field trip options if the machines were banned? Or are vending machines okay if the choices are healthy?


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photo credit: Baby Carrots by ilovebutter

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2:36PM PST on Nov 15, 2012

Thank you for article.

2:36PM PST on Nov 15, 2012

Thank you for article.

11:44AM PST on Nov 10, 2010

Yuck! They are kids, not rabbits!

6:26AM PDT on Oct 13, 2010

I live in Cincinnati and I think the idea is fabulous.

4:17PM PDT on Oct 5, 2010

As a additional comment to the poll; I would have to say that these Vending Machines are fine, also if you want a little snack, its always there, though what does it offer? Oreos, Cheetos, Nacho chips? We need some HEALTHY snacks. Lets put in carrots,apples, or even drinks that a more then 80% real fruit.

3:26PM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

I want one at my school!!!!

11:16AM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

What a great idea!

3:23AM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

I would have loved one of them at school, and even now at uni. I end up eating chocolate when I'm peckish because that's all that's there. At school we had orange juice in them, but they were more expensive than the little bottles of brightly coloured fizzy juice. Bags of carrots and fruits should be there, even if alongside junk food, but cheaper to make them more enticing. Teenagers are not just junkfood eating machines, it's just that, I've found, there is too little alternative. And vending machines are fine - if you're hungry at school, you don't work as efficiently.

1:14PM PDT on Oct 3, 2010

If they are full of healthful snacks - and students pay for these not with money but with special coins they earn for getting good grades, being helpful, etc.

9:34PM PDT on Oct 2, 2010

I think if vending machines are going to be in schools, they should definitely offer healthy options. Suzan, I am not a diabetic, so forgive me for being ignorant, but aren't there healthier options that could stabilize one's sugar? Things like orange juice and other food with natural sugars?

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