The Vending Machine Crisis


Image: Sarah Clayton

The vending machines in the high school cafeteria are usually flooded with students at all lunch hours. However, when the usual flock appeared on September 12th this school year, they were met with a sign that read: “Vending machine is restricted by timer between the hours of 8:00 AM & 2:00 PM.” This immediately raised questions, and alarm spread throughout our school. Nobody could understand why they couldn’t just get their snacks. 

An anonymous student said, regarding the issue, “That’s so unfair! What if I just want a snack before going to my next class instead of a full lunch?”

Another student exclaimed, “Like, yeah, maybe the snacks were a little expensive, but it’s better than no snacks at all.”

These questions are all valid. However, it’s important to look deeper and find the exact reason this action was taken in the first place. From the multitude of students I interviewed, a majority assumed the cause was that too many snacks were being purchased every day, and the machines are almost always sold out within a week, so the administration had to cut back the hours. However, the actual reason for the restrictions is due to our cafeteria sales. 

Simply put, the vending machines were getting so popular that our cafeteria was losing sales. In addition to this, the unsold portion of the lunch provided by the cafeteria daily was being wasted because of the number of students who opted for the vending machines instead. We wouldn’t be having this problem if the revenue earned by the vending machines went directly to the school. However, the machines are actually owned by a separate company, and so the school only gets a fraction of the profit in the end.

As a result, restricting the hours of the vending machines seemed to be the cafeteria’s ultimate decision for the time being. To satisfy those who play sports or have other after school activities, Mr. Baxter considered allowing the machines to operate from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM. This may make some happy, but what about other students, specifically sophomores and freshmen, who can’t leave school during the day and who just don’t want a huge lunch? Some may say to just take the cafeteria’s smaller options. However, it’s not always a picky-eater problem. Those that have dietary restrictions such as gluten allergies find it easier to just have the gluten-free options from the vending machine than to search for options from the cafeteria. 

Some members of the SHHS community have posed possible solutions to this problem, such as taking the same snacks from the vending machine and selling them in the cafeteria for the same price. This way, the cafeteria would gain all the profit from the snacks sold. However, this would likely take a long time, and if it happens, there would be less of a need for vending machines. This would also make the lunch lines exponentially longer.

In conclusion, the era of the Sleepy vending machines with their healthy snack alternatives has come to an end for now, from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The question on whether they will return is currently unknown.