How many healthy options are in your school vending machines? Whether the vending machine is available to students or just staff, providing healthy vending options is key to your school’s success in creating a healthier environment and building life-long healthy habits.
If your school participates in the Federal School Meal Program, vending machines that students can access during the school day must provide options that align with the USDA’s Smart Snacks Standards.
- Complete a vending inventory to determine what healthy items are available and other snacks you would like to add.
- Survey teachers and students to learn about the kinds of healthy snacks they would like to see in vending machines.
- Negotiate with vending companies to increase the number of healthy choices available.
- Educate school staff and students about healthy choices through posters near vending machines, table tents in the staff lounge and cafeteria, and the school announcements.
- Work with your vendor to change the pricing structure of vending items to make healthier items more affordable.
- Work with your vendor to change the placement of items in vending machines to make healthier items at eye-level.
- Label the healthiest options with a “Healthy Choice” symbol to help students and staff quickly identify healthy options.
- Host a taste test to sample healthy vending options.
- Institute a “Healthy Snack of the Month” and promote it among students and staff. Place a sticker on the bottom of one of the highlighted snack products and offer a healthy prize to the lucky recipient.
- Check out the USDA’s Smart Snacks Standards to learn about allowable vending machine snacks. While these requirements apply to vending machines students can access, it’s a good idea to make all vending machines consistent to encourage staff to be healthy role models.
- Get student and staff input prior to making vending machine changes.
- Complement vending machine changes with promotion and education on the new products available.
- Find out what healthy options your students and staff are interested in purchasing! Use a healthy vending survey to see what change you can implement.