Photo by Jeremy Chung.
The clinking and rustling of coins and dollar bills perfectly complemented the overlapping chatter of students idly discussing their day or what to get. That is a perfect way to describe the environment around the vending machines every day.
When listing the most popular hangout places for students at WCHS, areas like the hallways or the cafeteria may come to mind first. However, another place just as popular is often forgotten: the vending machines. For students wanting a quick snack break, vending machines are the perfect option.
From drinks and chips to ice cream sandwiches, the vending machines around WCHS offer a diverse array of options for students to choose from. However, WCHS has tried to limit the number of choices given to students.
WCHS has three types of vending machines operating. First, the new advanced vending machines with touchscreen tablets make navigating through the chips and fruit snacks easier. Second, the ones that specifically sell drinks, such as lemonade and fruit punch. The third type, which sells the broadest range of snacks, is arguably the most popular and often has the most students lined up to buy their favorites. It is common to see students mingling around them with chips, candy bars and Pop-Tarts in hand.
However, not every vending machine is in use during the school day. Only the drinks and high-tech vending machines are in use, as WCHS installs a time lock that disables the device on their most popular machine. This means that students can not buy anything until 2:30 p.m. after the day is over, and speaking about the other snack vending machines, WCHS sometimes does not fill up every single shelf with snacks, leaving students with few options.
Instead of disabling, WCHS should turn on all the vending machines to give more options for students and help them take a break.
Imagine this from a student’s perspective. After a long and tiring morning of classes, a student wants to get their favorite snack to keep themselves awake and have enough energy to get through the other half of the day: a Pop-Tart. Once they get to the vending machine that sells Pop-Tarts, however, they find that the machine is disabled and have to desperately wait until the end of the school day to get one. While this may sound silly, this is the reality for many who just want to grab a quick snack.
Studies have shown that students benefit from vending machines with healthier options and that periodic snack breaks help improve concentration and lessen stress and anxiety levels among students.
Allowing all vending machines to be used could also allow WCHS to generate more revenue. If all vending machines were open, WCHS would not lose money from students who planned to buy something but could not because they gave up waiting until the end of the school day. Although the money made will not be much, it can help schools significantly.
The vending machine snacks can additionally help students have extra lunch options other than the ones provided by the cafeteria, giving them the freedom to choose their snacks. If students can’t though, this can affect their moods, and thus on their performance in afternoon classes.
It can be said WCHS disables these machines to avoid large gatherings during class, but the other two types of vending machines are left active. Why should only the third be closed? The vending machines arguably act like a teacher’s lounge, but students should have one too.
Also, some could say that the candy inside the disabled machine is unhealthy and should not be eaten regularly. Yet, the drink vending machines sell fruit punch with 28 grams of sugar, so making that case is also not plausible.
WCHS strives to put mental health in students’ conversations by finding ways to ease the burden. With that being said, opening up all the vending machines could play a role in creating a more welcoming environment for students. If the administration decides that opening it during class time will become a distraction, then they should at least turn it on at lunch. The benefits of allowing students to take a quick break and refresh with a snack should not be overlooked, as it is something that many students would appreciate in the stressful school environment.