Vending machines in schools going organic

Once a safe haven from unidentifiable cafeteria slop, students could subsist on Cheetos, Twix Bars and Cherry Coke, without leaving school grounds, and still insisting they ate “lunch,” thanks to vending machines, which became popular staples on school grounds in the 1980s and 1990s.

While many schools have phased out sodas and sugary beverages from their vending machines, many still offer unhealthy snack items to students that contain excess amounts of salt, hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and flavors.

With the recent passing of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act by Congress affecting all foods made available to students while at school, content available in vending machines on school grounds are included in this upgrade.

Wal Mart’s recent announcement to begin offering healthier food options, and the expansive growth of the organic food industry means vending machines don’t have to go the way of the dinosaur—they can provide students with more nutritious snack choices. As reported by msnbc.com, McHenry, Ill. Healthy U Snacks Company founder, T. Hephner, says there is a huge demand for the vending machines featuring natural selections that his company places throughout the Chicago-area, “People are looking for chemical-free foods that don’t have artificial colors, flavors and preservatives,” he says. And there are natural vending machine companies cropping up all over the country.

The Organic Trade Association says a third of Americans buy organic food every month. But buyers should beware of organic claims on processed foods made to look like their conventional counterparts. While organic is healthier for the environment and the farmers spared exposure to pesticides and other toxins, organic snacks can often contain as much sugar and sodium as conventional foods.

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Photo: ejk