School district should lower prices of vending machine options, add variety to drinks students choose from

Alex Kontopanos, Photo Editor

It’s mid-day. You’re hungry and tired. You’re stressed and rushing to make it to your next class on time. Your stomach makes another dying whale noise. You head towards the vending machine with 2 minutes left before class starts. You skim over the options through the glass wall. Your mouth waters as you eye the small bag of pretzels in the top corner. You glance at the price and a wave of disappointment washes over you. That’s two dollars out of your wallet. It doesn’t seem like a lot now, but if you keep going to the vending machine for snacks, it adds up quickly.
Let’s be honest. The vending machine is expensive. Plus, the drinks they have aren’t our favorites.
What even is Sobe? I’ve tried it once and I could basically feel the aspartame on my tongue. In addition, not all of us enjoy diet sodas.
We get it, we need to be healthy. That’s totally understandable. But diet sodas contain aspartame and artificial sweeteners which can be more unhealthy than regular sugar. But why can’t we put one or two non-diet sodas in there? It’s not going to hurt anyone. And what about the juices? Those have a lot more sugar than expected.
I’m not saying we need to get rid of all the drinks in the vending machine. I’m not saying our prices should be lower because I understand why they aren’t.
But I do think we should have more variety in our drink selection.
Why can’t we add a few sodas that aren’t diet? Why can’t we put Gatorade in all the vending machines? Why can’t prices be lowered?
The answer isn’t that simple though. Cafeteria manager John Brown said the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulated the amount of caffeine the vending machine drinks can have thus making sugary drinks, such as non-diet sodas, limited.
If you were wondering why we don’t have Coca-Cola in our shiny snack-filled glass boxes, it is because the Blue Valley District has made an exclusive contract with Pepsi for the vending machines.
Furthermore, Blue Valley has certain nutritional guidelines that need to be filled by the cafeteria. “We have certain guidelines about what we are and aren’t allowed to sell,” Brown said.
When choosing where to get certain food products from, Brown said they use a form of “bidding.”
“We put out our [nutritional] guidelines to local producers and suppliers and they make bids to supply us, and we pick the lowest bidder,” Brown said.
This is usually done for sports drinks that are placed in the vending machines and in the cafeteria.
Clearly, the process of selecting which food items will be placed into the vending machines and within the cafeteria is not an easy one. I can’t blame the BV District for being required to follow certain guidelines about nutrition for their students. But truthfully, I think students of a high school age can decide for themselves how much caffeine they can intake. Providing a few non-diet sodas in the vending machines isn’t going to make everyone in the district obese.