Choices. Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, everyone is faced with multiple choices every day. A University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) graduate student helped her fellow classmates and professors by making the choice to snack healthy easier. As part of her thesis, she set out to learn if students and faculty would purchase healthy vending machine options. After taste testing one of the three snacks—licorice, chocolate chip cookies, or chili cheese flavored pop chips—each tester was asked if they would buy the item if it were available in one of the university’s vending machines. The positive outcome led UNK to replace some of the previous vending choices with healthier options.
Regardless of a student’s age, eating healthy is important. Not only does a healthy diet impact physical growth, but it also affects a Minneapolis and St. Paul student’s ability to learn. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “More than a quarter of kids’ daily calories may come from snacks, kids who have healthy eating patterns are more likely to perform better academically, and kids consume more healthy foods and beverages during the school day.” Easy access to healthy snacks at school makes choosing healthy snacks simple. Unfortunately, access to healthy snacks at school isn’t always easy.
Action for Healthy Kids®, an organization that works to end childhood obesity, offers the following tips for changing the types of snacks and beverages that are available in Minneapolis and St. Paul school vending machines.
- Determine the current snack inventory
- Survey teachers and students about snack preferences: consider holding a “taste test” and asking for opinions about potential choices such as Snikiddy Baked Fries or Nature’s Path Organic Granola Bars
- Talk to your local vending company about increasing the number of healthy options available, the pricing structure, and healthy item placement in the vending machine
- Educate staff and students about the new choices, and why healthy eating is important
But will offering more healthy choices really have a positive impact? According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, the answer is yes. Four independent studies examining the behavior of school age students (k-12) in Connecticut, Texas, Massachusetts, and Washington found that students increased their intake of healthy choices when more healthy choices and a greater variety of healthy choices were offered.
If your Minneapolis and St. Paul school doesn’t use vending machines or is looking to switch from traditional vending snacks and beverages to healthy ones, we can help. By switching to healthy vending options, the dilemma about what to choose is removed. For more information about how to make the switch, contact Royal Vending at 763.425.3690.