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.
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.
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?
photo credit: Baby Carrots by ilovebutter