A familiar sight, Aragon’s seven beverage machines and four snack machines offer students a variety of options; yet, following frustrations with attaining snacks from the vending machine, a student rammed into a vending machine on Nov. 24, causing packs of potato chips and the sheet of tempered glass, alike, to scatter on the ground.
Such an incident calls to question just how valuable are vending machines to the Aragon community.
Some students find that vending machines are efficient and useful for the school community because they eliminate the need of cashiers or personnel to execute the sales.
“I use vending machines three times a week probably, sometimes four. I use them because a lot of times after school, I get hungry, and also sometimes at lunch, I don’t have enough time to eat my actual lunch,” sophomore Briana Johnson says.
“I like that you can get a snack anytime during the day. Many teachers allow students to eat in class and having the machines lets people get something during passing period or during class,” says senior Candy Zhang.
Denis Vorrises, Manager of Student Nutrition Services at the SMUHSD office says, “The snack machines are managed by the outside company Service Vending System; the drink machines are provided by Pepsi and filled in-house by District staff.”
Aragon receives approximately $2,500 annually from vending machine purchases. All snacks cost $1.25, water costs $1.25 and Gatorade costs $1.75. Some might feel that select items are costly, and these prices can prevent students from purchasing food.
“The vending machines require a minimum of $1.25. You cannot buy anything when you do not have the extra quarter. It’s inconvenient. The prices should be even, maybe a dollar,” says junior Andrew Wang.
“I don’t really dislike anything other than the fact that some of the things in the vending machines are way overpriced,” Zhang says.
Vending machine security can be a concern for the administration. Vorrises says, “[The] machines did have cages because of vandalism; we replaced them last school year with enclosures to show the school colors and to give a better look.”
Dounia Kardosh, who is in charge of the beverages sold, says, “I believe the cages were put in to protect the machines from damage. Many students would shake the machines at times when they did not disburse products, so the decision was made to put in the cages to solve this problem.”
Additionally, the accessible foods and beverages in the vending machines may not be the best choices of food healthwise. Many machines contain chips, cookies, and nutrition bars, which all have a sufficient amount of calories or sugar content.
Kardosh says, “I believe my health concern for the machines is that we are still not providing a healthy snack for our students.”
In addition, the machines may be unreliable because they do not always function properly, as they occasionally fail to dispense food or provide the right change. Such inefficiencies may result in frustration and dissatisfaction of students.
“Sometimes [vending machines] won’t give you your snacks, so you have to try again, and it’s very upsetting. It’s because a lot of the kids go up and shake the vending machines to get snacks out, and it’ll leave a bunch of spaces before,” says Johnson.
Although it appears that students do not have a way to report the problems they encounter with vending machines, the administration and the cafeteria do offer reimbursement. “For all drinks I am given money for refunds, [and] the cafeteria is in charge of refunding for snacks,” says Kardosh.
Despite minor problems, vending machines remain a useful way for students to grab food during school.