Vending machines are box-like equipment that carry and sell consumer items that are grab-and-go by design to make available quick relief from a specific point.
They are most often filled with snacks and sugary beverages; however, you will note that these machines now sell water, sandwiches, yogurt, muffins, and even fruits and vegetables.
However, it is imperative to note that the presence of vending machines in schools has been a topic of discussion for many years.
Although vending machines even when mounted on school premises are primarily meant to provide convenience and generate revenue; however, they pose potential risks to students’ health and academic performance.
Even if there are healthy vending machines in schools, parents are concerned because there is little or no way to monitor what the kids are eating.
Pros of Vending Machines in Schools
There are indeed advantages that come with these machines being in a school environment. Those pros include;
Vending machines in schools serve as that easy-to-access option for students when they are seeking food and beverages between classes or during breaks. It helps students avoid bringing packed meals or going off the school premises just to buy snacks or drinks.
2. Revenue Source
These machines can also become a source of revenue for schools. The profits that come from vending machines can be put towards educational programs, facility improvements, or other initiatives that benefit the student body as a whole.
3. Promotion of Hydration
Vending machines can be used to sell or offer a wide range of drinks. Keep in mind that encouraging students to choose water over sugary beverages can help boost their overall health and well-being.
4. Diverse Options
These machines are known to provide a vast assortment of choices, such as healthy snacks, drinks, or even fresh fruit options.
Note that these diversities give room for students to pick or purchase items that align with their preferences and dietary needs.
Schools are known to possess limited lunch break options, and this further buttresses the importance of vending machines. These machines work to save time for students who may not possess that much time to wait in long cafeteria lines.
6. Financial Responsibility
Vending machines can also work to ensure that students learn financial responsibility by making them manage their own money. It can help to teach them how to make choices within a budget and comprehend the value of money.
7. Cultural Inclusivity
A whole lot of things can be sold using these machines, and they can be used to carry a vast range of snacks and drinks, representing different cultures and backgrounds. This works to boost inclusivity and ensure that students can experience a range of flavors and food traditions.
These machines are still accessible outside regular meal hours, and it simply means that students can have access to food and beverages all through the school day.
Keep in mind that this availability is indeed a benefit for students who need to be in school for their early morning classes or those who have to stay long after school to take part in extracurricular commitments.
Cons of Vending Machines in Schools
While there are benefits that come with vending machines being positioned in schools, there are also cons to take into account. Some of them include;
1. Unhealthy Options
This is without doubt the primary concern that comes with these machines in schools. Note that parents are worried about the availability of unhealthy food and drinks.
You will find that a good number of vending machines are stocked with sugary snacks, sodas, and high-fat items, and all these are known to contribute to poor dietary habits and health issues like obesity and dental problems.
2. Negative Impact on Cafeteria Services
Once vending machines become the main source of food and drinks for students, it entails that the use of cafeteria services will reduce drastically among students. Also, note that this could impact the financial viability of the cafeteria and limit the quality of meals offered.
3. Risk of Vandalism and Theft
Vending machines are known to be prone to vandalism and theft, and this could lead to financial losses for the school. Aside from that, incidents of theft or disputes over vending machine products can leave a negative atmosphere among students.
4. Environmental Impact
Vending machines have been found to lead to more waste through the packaging of snacks and drinks. This can contribute to more littering, and waste disposal issues, as well as harm to the environment if adequate recycling and waste management practices are not implemented.
5. Limited Nutritional Value
Even when vending machines are fully fitted with healthier options, they tend to be void of the nutritional value of freshly prepared meals.
Most of the things you find in these machines are processed and contain additives, preservatives, or high levels of sodium, and all these negatively impact the overall quality of the students’ diets.
6. Unregulated Consumption
Vending machines also make it very easy for students to access snacks and drinks all throughout the day, and this could lead to excessive consumption.
These machines are also known to encourage unhealthy eating habits, overconsumption of sugary beverages, and a lack of portion control.
7. Cost Considerations
Vending machine snacks and drinks will most definitely be more expensive especially when compared to bringing packed lunches or buying snacks from external sources. As such, they could put a financial burden on students who have to depend on them for their meals and snacks
8. Reduced Social Interaction
Vending machines indeed limit social interaction among students, especially during meal times. Rather than visiting the cafeteria to sit and eat with other students while making small talk, students might choose to eat alone or in classrooms, missing out on the social aspects and potential benefits of shared meals.