Soroco High School debuts healthy vending machine
Steamboat Springs — Students at Soroco High School said goodbye to candy bars and junk food-filled vending machines during the summer and now make their snack selections from an interactive, healthy snack dispenser.
The new Human brand healthy vending machine was purchased by the South Routt School District for $9,000, funded through a Colorado Department of Education grant that also brought in Health and Wellness Coordinator Kristi Brown, who splits her time between schools in South Routt and Hayden.
“We have been pleasantly surprised with the student response,” said Brown, who helped bring the new vending machine to campus. “It’s such a beautiful machine.”
The refrigerated vending machine offers students fruit, yogurt and other snacks with lower calories and more nutritional value than previous machines on campus. The need to revamp school snacks was prompted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which imposed new guidelines for school snacks, effective July 1, Brown said.
Last spring, Brown did taste tests of healthy foods with students in South Routt and Hayden, surveying students about which snacks they would prefer to have on campus.
Some of those selections are in Soroco’s new vending machine, depending on availability from the companies the school uses to stock it.
Above the machine is a video monitor, outfitted with 300 slides displaying educational information about health, nutrition, fitness and drug use, which Brown organized during the summer.
“I chose this machine because of the option for the educational component,” Brown said.
Students at Soroco High School on Tuesday afternoon were visiting the machine frequently for after-lunch snacks and drinks.
“I didn’t really get anything from the last (vending machine), and now I do,” sophomore Sarvis Anarella said.
Anarella said he is health conscious and a vegetarian, so he appreciates having healthier options for snacks.
“It’s different. I like it better,” he said.
The most popular item among students were Izze brand carbonated juice drinks, which sell for $1 each. The drinks are 70 percent fruit juice and much lower in calories than most sodas.
The school purchases the food to stock the vending machine itself, rather than using a vending company, and the Future Business Leaders of America club uses the process as a teaching tool and fundraiser, according to club adviser Randy Homan.
Homan said club members restock the machine each day and record inventory, and profits are used for FBLA and other campus clubs.
“I use it like every day, when I have the money,” freshman Colton Stroup said. “It’s pretty good — the muffins are definitely a big seller. It’s definitely a lot healthier, which is important, especially for America right now.”