Why Not Just Stuff Vending Machines With Healthy Snacks Instead Of Junk?

I remember an episode of My So-Called Life where Rayanne was trying to get an apple out of a vending machine at school and thinking, “That would be great. Why aren’t there more healthy vending machines? I’d eat an apple with Jordan Catalano.* ” Seems one school district in Dallas also saw that episode and is trying out just such an idea to promote healthy eating among its students.

While it’s not an all-carrot vending machine, or even an apple machine a la MSCL, the offerings from the Fresh Healthy Vending machine at the Academy of Dallas Charter School are healthier than your average candy bars, cookies and chips.

School officials put the new machine in the cafeteria as part of a healthy eating initiative, reports CBS DFW News.

“We have growing concerns about what our students are eating, with childhood obesity, juvenile diabetes,” explained the principal. “So, we wanted to bring something into the school that gets students moving and teaches them appropriate eating habits.”

The franchise owners of Fresh Healthy Vending in Dallas County says kids didn’t quite get it at first.

“When we installed the machine, we had a kid joke, ‘What’s going in there, apples and oranges?’ And we laughed,” said one owner, “because kids don’t realize when you snack, it’s still snacks, but it’s so healthy.”

There are sweet and savory snack options, but the products don’t have artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, and the ingredients are all natural.

“All organic, gluten-free products. All the products are just better for you,” said the franchise’s other owner. “It’s going in schools, businesses all throughout the City of Dallas.”

Students are digging it thus far, as well, which is the important part when it comes to changing unhealthy eating habits early on.

“It’s actually better,” said one, with another adding, “It also tastes really good. My mom said the same thing, because I used to eat a lot of junk food. And she says if you start early, you won’t be able to stop later on.”

*I would totally still eat an apple with fictional character Jordan Catalano any day.

Company Offers Healthy Vending Machine Food [CBS DFW]

Comments

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  1. Cat says:

    Bad snacks are addictive, Profit margins on crap are higher.

    • Round-Eye 外人はコンスマリッストが好きです。 says:

      And people just won’t buy them. As a society, we’ve basically weened ourselves off good food and onto junk food as “snacks”. Plus, most “healthy food” doesn’t have the shelf life necessary to sit in a vending machine.

    • dangermike says:

      bingo. We have a winner. Go ahead and close the thread. No further discussion necessary.

  2. Jane_Gage says:

    We tried it here, no dice.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      If it was next to the junk food machine, of course it will fail.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Yeah, we can’t have people making their own choices!

        • longfeltwant says:

          Yep. That’s pretty much what we are saying. We don’t let kids “choose” to be truant from school; we don’t let kids “choose” to dress in S&M porno clothing in class; we don’t let kids “choose” to smoke crack in the bathroom; and we don’t let kids “choose” to eat junk food all day long. Yes, that’s pretty much what we are saying, if you insist on looking at it through that meaningless lens.

        • JJFIII says:

          You mean children should get to choose whatever they want? Interesting concept. I guess you allow them to drink, smoke, not do homework, stay up all night, fuck their bf or gf on your couch, and eat whatever the fuck they want. Get a clue.

    • imasqre says:

      Where is “here”? And what happened?

  3. Preppy6917 says:

    I LOVED My So-Called Life…

  4. Alan says:

    Healthy stuff cost more than your 65 cent candy bar. Plus it doesn’t normally have the shelf life of the fun stuff

    • gqcarrick says:

      65 cents? Last time I checked a vending machine near me it was 90 cents or more for a candy bar.

      • redskull says:

        That’s just what I was gonna say. It’s been a lonnnnng time since I’ve seen a vending machine candy bar under a dollar. He must be 1985.

        • lim says:

          Try telling someone, “Here’s a quarter; call someone who cares.” Just doesn’t work anymore.

          • frugalmom says:

            I actually had to use a payphone last month and it was $.85 for a local call, and you didn’t know that until you dialed.

        • Patriot says:

          How could he be 1985? That guy died at midnight January 1, 1986.

      • Alan says:

        Apparently vending machine prices in rural ohio are cheap :)

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Exactly. An apple goes bad. A Snickers bar can probably sit in there for years.

  5. bennilynn says:

    What does organic or gluten-free have to do with being healthy?

    • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

      Doesn’t have any nasty chemicals like di-hydrogen monoxide added.

    • highfructosepornsyrup says:

      They’re all related to making food more expensive?

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Buzzwords are expensive and fun!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s edible by a wide-range of society.

      • bennilynn says:

        As a celiac sufferer, let me you, there are some very unhealthy gluten-free options out there. It doesn’t mean anything in regards to health. And as someone who chooses to buy organic for a lot of other reasons, there’s nothing inherently healthy in that label, either.

    • elangomatt says:

      I was asking myself the same question. I am still trying to figure out why so many people are trying to avoid gluten in their diets. Unless they have a sensitivity to gluten (like Celiac’s Disease) then why avoid it? How many centuries or millenia has wheat been a staple food to a massive number of people?

  6. dicobalt says:

    Because healthy stuff doesn’t consist of preservatives, it won’t last long enough. Ever see a 4 year old McDonalds hamburger? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IGtDPG4UfI It’s doesn’t even decompose.

  7. ash says:

    IMHO, products like Izze sodas are not that different from traditional sodas. Still sugar water, although one has high fructose corn syrup and one does not.

  8. delicatedisarray says:

    I would die of joy to come across a vending machine stocked with Izzys like that one is!

  9. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    Are there going to be slots for organic, artificial color and flavoring free marijuana and hemlock? Obviously, since they are organic with no additives they have to be good for you.

    Organic, natural junk food is still junk food.

    BTW, perfect place to link to an article I saw on slashdot earlier:

    The Rise of Chemophobia In the News:

    http://blogs.plos.org/speakeasyscience/2012/05/09/nicholas-kristof-and-the-bad-bad-chemical-world/

  10. nbs2 says:

    Since when is gluten-free an indicator of healthy? I thought it just meant that it was safe for those who can’t process it. Like lactose-free.

  11. Engine-B says:

    We have one of these at work. The problem is it’s just hard for many people to justify spending $3.00 on a health snack when the next vending machine has $0.75 candy bars.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Word. I got a lunch at a grocery deli: 3 leg pieces (small) rotisserie chicken, two sides of cooked greens, a flavored water and slices of watermelon for dessert: about $10.

      Fried chicken meal with fried sides and fountain drink with slice of pie? about $5.50.

      This displeases me.

  12. foofish says:

    Jordan Catalano will forever be the measuring stick against which all dreamboats should be judged. I’m glad to see this officially recognized by Consumerist.

  13. gqcarrick says:

    I just can’t see getting an apple from a vending machine. Would it even stay good for that long? Who knows how long some of those things in vending machines have been in there.

    • highfructosepornsyrup says:

      All they have to do is inject them with organic, gluten-free, preservatives.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I’ve seen those refrigerated ones that had apples, oranges, sandwiches, etc. and the carousel that turned around. I thought those were cool. Haven’t seen them for a long time, though. Only junky crap.

      Would be cool if they could have the Automat again. I always wanted to do that. When I found out it was gone, I was very sad. (I know off topic but it reminded me of it)

  14. iesika says:

    “All organic, gluten-free products. All the products are just better for you.”

    The first statement does not necessarily relate to the second statement. Filling kids full of things over-sweetened with apple or grape juice concentrate instead of with corn syrup or sugar might be marginally better, but it’s still a problem.

    That said… I’m in favor of this, and would be in favor of the vending machine in my office building offering something similar. As it is, the only thing I can find in it that’s not either deep friend or coated in sugar (or both) are the animal crackers. One can only eat so many animal crackers.

  15. dulcinea47 says:

    It doesn’t say what’s actually going to be in there. “preservative free” does not mean healthy. “Organic” does not mean healthy. “Gluten free” does not mean healthy. WTH.

  16. brinks says:

    It would be nice to have healthier options from vending machines when they’re your only option. In college, the healthiest thing I could get between class was Sun Chips, which were the same price as all the other chips and stuff. I would have loved the occasional apple or granola bar, assuming it wasn’t much more. Eating healthy is too often expensive and inconvenient. I love this idea, but I hope it’s cost effective.

  17. brinks says:

    It would be nice to have healthier options from vending machines when they’re your only option. In college, the healthiest thing I could get between class was Sun Chips, which were the same price as all the other chips and stuff. I would have loved the occasional apple or granola bar, assuming it wasn’t much more. Eating healthy is too often expensive and inconvenient. I love this idea, but I hope it’s cost effective.

  18. blinky says:

    Good luck with it. Unhealthy snacks are in vending machines for very good reasons.

  19. tiredofit says:

    Those sparking juice drinks in your picture of “healthy” snacks are chock full of sugar and empty calories. They’re better than soda, but calling them healthy is a little but of a stretch.

  20. madanthony says:

    The college I work for has a couple of “healthy vending” machines, one right next to my office. The stuff in them is pretty random and includes stuff I wouldn’t normally think of buying from a vending machine, as well as stuff that doesn’t really strike me as healthy – it’s got Orbitz gum and and microwave popcorn, and Horizion shelf-stable milk and chocolate Silk soymilk. No fresh fruit, though.

    At one point, it also had Planters 2 ounce bags of peanuts for $1.25 – while the normal vending machine next to it had them for 80 cents.

  21. craftman says:

    I came here to comment on the article’s asinine insistence on equating “organic, preservative free, color free” with “healthy”, but my faith in the human race has been buoyed by the outpouring of opinion on the exact same topic by other Consumerists. Thank you all.

  22. Cicadymn says:

    “Why Not Just Stuff Vending Machines With Healthy Snacks Instead Of Junk?”

    Because people won’t buy it.

    Just like forcing schools bake sales to be apple and banana sales won’t have people coughing up the dough they need.

  23. axolotl says:

    Thank God they got gluten-free oranges

  24. BennieHannah says:

    When my kids were young I used to make up “rules” for unhealthy snack foods:

    You can have a doughnut if we pass Krispy Kreme and the hot doughnut sign is on — the nearest KK was five miles from our home and not on our usual route. When it happened we ALL celebrated!

    You can have a candy bar from a vending machine — the only vending machine they knew of was in the cafeteria building of the college I was attending, and they had to walk a long way from the library to get there…

    I’ll buy you a soda or an ice cream or a slushy if you help me walk the dogs to Sonic — three miles round trip.

    Oddly enough, they never developed a taste for junk food because it was never forbidden, just inconvenient.

    • Jillia says:

      “You can have a doughnut if we pass Krispy Kreme and the hot doughnut sign is on — the nearest KK was five miles from our home and not on our usual route. When it happened we ALL celebrated!”

      It not only deterred them in the fact that it was inconvenient, but it also taught them that junk food is a TREAT, not part of your daily diet. Kudos.

      Part of the problem today is that all this crap is incorporated into peoples diets on a daily basis. There are people who think McDonalds is normal food and eat it every day. Bleh.

  25. SteveHolt says:

    Healthy stuff isn’t packed with preservatives, and thus cannot survive life in a vending machine.

    Kudos to whoever came up with that really obscure reference. MSCL was awesome.

  26. Kuri says:

    Unless the machine is modified to provide refrigeration, this is designed to fail.

  27. Not Given says:

    Not enough people will buy that stuff before it rots

  28. prismatist says:

    Come see the offerings in Canadian vending machines. At schools they’re all healthier stuff – the least healthy are baked potato chips. And it’s not just in school machines. Normal machines out in the real world have tons of healthy options, and a lot of them are actually tasty.

  29. Corinthos says:

    Had one at my work for about two months before it was switched it back to a regular one. They wanted 1.50 for a banana. I think a pack of carrots was a dollar but almost everything else was between 1-3.

  30. cspschofield says:

    I am reminded (I think I’ve posted it here before) of Daniel Pinkwater’s comment on modern junk food in comparison to the “truly frightening” junk feed of his childhood in the 1950′s. He said that the modern stuff is “At least fairly sanitary, and made mostly of things you can eat.”. My mother had the same reaction to other parents criticism of Hamburgers and Fries as “junk food” in the 1970′s; she remembered the mostly sugar snacks she ate as a child in the 1920′s.

    I really think we are being sold a bill of goods. Multiple bills of goods. Organic produce requires three time the cropland to grow the same amount of food (you lose that much to pests and weeds). To my mind, that makes any supposed environmental benefit highly suspect. Multiple studies show that “Organic” food is no more nutritious than the alternative. And if kids are fatter these days, I’m not convinced that it constitutes a problem …. but my Lady has an eating disorder, and I have spent entirely too goddamned much time in rooms full of adult women who looked like teenaged elves. So I have a prejudice there.

    As for “natural”; arsenic is natural. Botulism is natural. Sitting in a tree, picking parasites off of your relatives is natural.

    When third world countries are routinely growing enough food to feed their people, then I will relax about the “organic” and “natural” business, and not before. When I hear that some African head of state has pledged to follow organic and natural farming practices, I frankly want to look up some local food fadists and hit them with a shovel. “Organic” and “Natural” are artificial value judgements and luxuries that only the First World can afford.

  31. human_shield says:

    I hate these things! I don’t sit at the vending machine and pig out all day every day. I don’t want a tiny bag of tasteless organic gluten free sugarless hypoallergenic vitamin water, I want some damn Doritos! Thanks for nothing, fat people.

  32. 2 Replies says:

    “Healthy” is a sliding scale.
    Fill it with “healthy” snacks and someone will be bitching about the sugar that’s added to the dried cranberries, or the salt that’s on the peanuts.

    No matter how small or non-existent it may be, “princess” will always have to have a pea to bitch about.

  33. varro says:

    No more apples in the vending machine please.

  34. atthec44 says:

    Why Not Just Stuff Vending Machines With Healthy Snacks Instead Of Junk?

    Because it doesn’t sell like junk food does.

  35. InsomniacZombie says:

    They tried doing that at my office. Everybody revolted, complained, and let the food go bad. It’s now restocked with chips, candy bars, and those *shudder* prepackaged cinnamon buns.

  36. magnetic says:

    Who ever, ever buys that sad-looking apple from Starbucks? The problem is the poor quality. I’d like to eat a decent apple from time to time, but I won’t be paying inflated prices for what is probably inedible, spoiled produce.

  37. PLATTWORX says:

    “”All organic, gluten-free products. All the products are just better for you,”

    Just as more and more evidence comes out that a gluten-free diet may actually be UNHEALTHY for those without a gluten allergy (ABC News carried just such a report this week).

    I continue to wait for the major shock that most organic foods are the same stuff put in different bags or just charged more for and really have no benefit. As I walk through my supermarket produce department.. how would I ever know if the stock person happened to put regular oranges in the “organic spot” and the store just made a much larger profit. The consumer can’t really tell, You have to trust stores who are in the business of making the most profit possible.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Unhealthy? Is that because wheat gluten is some critical nutrient (which I doubt), or that wheat products are so full of nutrition that they are irreplaceable in the diet (which I also doubt)?

  38. Professor59 says:

    There is no conspiracy against health. If people bought the apples from our (refrigerated) office vending machine, the next week, it would have twice as many apples in it. The reason there are 20 crappy hot dogs in my machine is because they sell. There is no more immediate marketing test than a vending machine.

  39. Cerne says:

    I lime how there is no proof that these snacks are actually better for the kids.

    “There are sweet and savory snack options, but the products don’t have artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, and the ingredients are all natural.”

    Tells me nothing about nutritional content it’s just trendy food talk.

    Also Mary Beth does realize why they don’t put apples in vending machines right?

  40. Christine says:

    Ugh, see this again and again. “”We have growing concerns about what our students are eating, with childhood obesity, juvenile diabetes,” explained the principal. “So, we wanted to bring something into the school that gets students moving and teaches them appropriate eating habits.””

    Juvenile diabetes = type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition that has nothing to do with diet.

  41. RayanneGraff says:

    Ha, I did more than eat an apple with Jordan Catalano ;)