Vending Snacks in Schools: When Delicious Is Nutritious
It’s a truth universally known in school cafeterias everywhere. Whether we’re in preschool or pre-calculus, we all give our tablemate’s lunch or school vending snacks the longing side eye.
No matter how appealing our own fare may be, a simple glance to the left or right can lead to food-related FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Yes, food FOMO was a thing long before Instagram.
Younger kids swap food like mini-traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Their older counterparts, on the other hand, often nibble off each other’s plates. Worse, they may reach into their backpacks and toss their food into a free-for-all heap––poker chip-style.
Teachers and staff, notorious multi-taskers, may skip lunch altogether.
School snacking conundrums
What’s a manager of a school nutrition program to do? How can you ensure that the people you’re serving––of all ages and palates and quirks––eat something nutritious and satisfying on your watch? How can parents be sure their kids are getting a well-balanced meal, plus a snack, when they’re off at school?
Consider the crowd-pleasing power of healthy vending snacks in schools. There they are, all lined up with their USDA-approved ingredients in an easy-to-use vending machine, ready to help. Good news: the healthy vending snacks in question can be stocked in the machine by someone other than you. You can hear the harp music playing already, can’t you?
With the help of a partner (like us), you can keep your lunch- and break-takers happy, and your satisfaction scores in gold star territory.
Keep them coming back
“We all like what we like,” says Mike Coffey, SVP of Strategic Initiatives, “but we also like to have options. Giving kids and staff a range of healthy vending snacks to choose from at school means there’s always something for everyone.”
More good news for kids, teachers, staff, volunteers and safety patrollers who need energy to rock their busy school days.
A high bar for healthy
Mike adds: “Parents and cafeteria managers can feel confident that we follow the USDA standards to the letter, in terms of calorie limits, sugar and sodium levels, and other nutritional guidelines. No one has to choose between health and convenience.”
Those USDA standards are the foundation of any school nutrition program, and they’re now more important than ever. As you may have noticed in your own districts, research shows that more and more kids are eating meals at school.
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) estimates that more than 31 million children eat school lunch, with another 14 million eating breakfast at school each day. Kaiser Permanente reports that “food consumed at school can contribute as much as 50 percent of children’s daily caloric intake on school days.”
Convenience is key
Here are some truths that statistics don’t tell us, but common sense does: Mornings get busy and groceries are expensive. Whether a child is in a single-parent home or part of a dual-income family, there’s not always time to pack nutritious, balanced lunches.
Additionally, making sure there’s an abundance of fresh, lunch-appropriate food at home to pack lunches gets pricey. And, as anyone who has ever been a teenager or tried to make lunch for one knows, sometimes they’re just not that into carrying a lunch around. Don’t take it personally.
There are many non-negotiables for kids, teachers and staff during the school day. The bells ring when they ring, lunch breaks happen when they happen, and some meetings are mandatory.
That’s why it’s nice to have options in the lunchroom. People of all ages will appreciate having easy access to the food and healthy vending snacks they like when they want it––side-eye glances, food FOMO and all.