Success Stories

School Snack and Beverage Vending - California

Starting in July 2001 all candy and chips in vending machines were replaced with crackers, pretzels, granola bars, corn nuts, peanuts, dried apricots and beef jerky in a California high school. New vending machines were also added that contained bagels with cream cheese cereal and milk, yogurt and granola, fresh fruit salad, shaker salads, fresh vegetables with light ranch dressing, whole fresh fruit and muffins. The soft drink machines were removed and replaced with a variety of milk, four types of 100% fruit juices, smoothies, bottled water, sports drinks, and three types of fruit drinks. In addition to providing healthier options, the pricing also encouraged the consumer to purchase the healthier item. Soft drinks were priced at $1.25, while juice and water were priced at $1.00.

The strategy worked: at the end of the first year, only 12 percent of the beverage sales were soft drinks while 68 percent were from the water and sports drinks and 20 percent were from milk and juice. By the end of the second year, the inventory for soft drinks was depleted and not replaced. After the change in vending, the school received over $20,000 in commissions which is double what they had received the previous year. The initial investment to support the improvement in vending machines was approximately $100, 000. It took the food service department only 30 months to recoup its initial investment.

Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and U.S. Department of Education. (2005). Making it Happen! School Nutrition Success Stories. Alexandria, VA.


Tips for starting your own vending machine improvement, from the wellness manager at Meredith Corporation.

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  • If you do not already have an agreement with a vendor, consider building a campaign and making it part of your agreement with your vendor.
  • If your vendor is reluctant to implement healthier choices in your vending machines consider building a case and take it to the vendor.  The case should provide detailed information on what the vendor and the company can both provide.
  • If your company does not have a large budget to implement this or does not have the funds to give gift cards as prizes consider giving away company t-shirts or small workout materials, such as stretch bands, exercise balls, or jump rope.

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