Bountiful Junior High Replaces Junk Food in Vending Machines

Bountiful Junior High Replaces Junk Food in Vending Machines

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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingThis year, Utah school districts are all supposed to begin putting "wellness policies" into place. Among other things, the federal government suggested guidelines for making sure kids get healthy food at schools.

Individual schools are still responsible for what they want in their vending machines and it's a tough financial dilemma.

Bountiful Junior High girls are getting a snack at school. But it won't be candy or pop.

Bountiful Junior High Replaces Junk Food in Vending Machines

Steve Lindsay, Principal, Bountiful Junior High: "When they came back from their summer vacation, we had removed all the pop and candy and had replaced it with what you see behind me."

Granola bars, fruit snacks and baked chips fill the snack machine. For beverages students can choose a variety of juices, water or milk. Students say it was hard to get used to at first.

Olivia Rydalch, Student: "The first week of school, everyone was like, ‘Oh, I want a soda so bad.'"

Now, though, many of the kids seem to like it.

Bountiful Junior High Replaces Junk Food in Vending Machines

Mika Johnson, Student: "I eat the honey and oats granola bars that are in the vending machines. They're really good."

Cassi Merrick, Student: "I think it will help get people more healthy instead of eating junk food and stuff."

The principal hopes so, since he's risking revenue for the change. Regular school vending machines bring in a lot of money for schools. A legislative audit released today showed Utah secondary schools earned 3.5 million dollars from machines.

Representative Patricia Jones: "We were trying to get info from schools so we could understand why they were selling so many harmful products."

State representative Patricia Jones says she doesn't want to see that revenue disappear for schools, she just wants healthier options available.

Representative Patricia Jones: "We have seen some numbers that show when there are healthier foods offered, that the numbers don't change."

Steve Lindsay says he was prepared to lose up to half of the school's vending revenue from changing snacks, but so far, he's been pleasantly surprised.

Steve Lindsay: "My vendor said we sold more in the first two days than he expected we would sell in the first two weeks."

His hope is that he can count on continued money at the same time as improved student health.

The audit also found schools don't have any set guidelines on how to use vending machine revenue. Some used it for baseball bleachers, others spent the money on field trips or student clubs, while some paid for cell phone bills and even a set of portraits for the principal.

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