Currently, Aragon carries eight vending machines that were added to the San Mateo Union High School District before the 2000’s. Overall, they have remained beneficial to students.
Aragon has vending machines that carry both snacks and drinks.“Its purpose [was to make] more revenue for the program as well as, I believe, just to have an option for the kids, maybe between service times such as brunch and lunch,” said SMUHSD Manager of Student Nutrition Denis Vorrises. In recent years, the type of snacks in the machines changed in response to Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which improved child nutrition standards at schools.
“Drinks can’t have added sugar. If they have electrolytes, they have to be a certain size, they have to be 100 percent juices,” Vorrises said. “The snacks can’t have so much fat, have to be a grain — 51 percent grain. There’s all kinds of requirements.”
The snack and drink machines are each managed by two different companies.
“We get 30 percent commission [for the snack machine],” Vorrises said. “So if we sell something for one dollar we would get 30 cents.”
While the snack machine’s Service Vending Systems charges $1.25 for food item, Pepsi, which manages the drink machines, has different standards with drinks ranging from $1.25 to $1.75 each.
“Pepsi provides the machines for free as long as we buy their products its compliant, it meets their requirement, then we ask someone to fill up the machine that we pay from our department,” Vorrises said. “The more we sell the more we make — the less we sell the less we make.”
While the snack prices are set by the company, SMUHSD manages pricing of the drinks.
“We have to do a certain markup to meet the requirements,” Vorrises said. “The government says you have to markup your product to a certain amount to be compliant to make sure your funding is not being paid for out of reimbursement.”
While students find the machines convenient, they often experience technical difficulties with the machines.
“[The food] always [gets stuck],” said sophomore Itzel Macias. “I usually have to put more money in to get it unstuck, but sometimes it gets more stuck.”
Repairs are made by the staff in response to technical difficulties and damages to the machines.
“Aragon has had a few repairs, and typically the cause has been the students,” Vorrises said. “From shaking the machine to putting fake bills in there or gum in there. If it’s a drink-related issue [students must report] to the front office [and] snacks to the cafeteria … and they get a refund.”
Students often rely on these machines to get a snack between classes.
“Our classes can be very tiring,” said freshman Jeshlyn Prasadi. “[And sometimes] we didn’t have a sufficient amount of food in the morning or we’re extra hungry.”
While some students buy snacks during school, vending machines are also used after school hours.
“They’re nice for people who stay [after school] for extra curriculums and get hungry,” said senior Julia Cot.
Although the vending machines may have limited options and technical difficulties, they are generally appreciated by students.