The vending machines of Thomas Jefferson High School are facing a major revamp.
From sports to schoolwork to socializing, the activities of a high schooler require a significant amount of energy. The perpetual hunt for snacks is a pursuit familiar to all teens. Unfortunately, with adolescents being chronically short of organizational skills and high schools lacking proximity to grocery stores, the only affordable option is often fast food or processed sweets from a machine. To make matters worse, vending machines are notorious for breaking down, unleashing the wrath of underfed juveniles. Luckily, Thomas Jefferson High School is abandoning the outdated and unhealthy vending machines by replacing them with an innovative approach to high school snacking. InstaHealthy, a company committed to making healthy choices more accessible, is sending a free, healthy vending machine that will offer organic, preservative-free, non-GMO options, revolutionizing the snacking habits of teens.
“I think this is a phenomenal idea,” enthused Brittany Nicolo, TJ’s PE teacher and unofficial health pundit. As an instructor who works with a large quantity of the student body, Nicolo notices the deteriorating eating habits of her students. She attributes rising obesity rates in part to how ubiquitous junk food has become. “Surrounding TJ, you do not have access to some of the healthier restaurants, especially if you do not have a vehicle. By having these healthy alternatives, students are given an opportunity to explore different options,” Nicolo expounded. She hopes the new machines will create a positive change in the current adolescent culture regarding food. “Unhealthy food and socializing go hand in hand,” she insisted. “If you get invited to Five Guys, you will go for the social aspect and forget about the thousand calories you are consuming.” Nicolo believes that teens could make healthier choices if they were more educated on the consequences of malnourishment. She is adamant that nutritious food needs to be made available to all, lest society reap the consequences of a health-unconscious nation. “We have to change this, especially for high schoolers, so they have the right knowledge before they go out into society,” concluded Nicolo.
Frequent vendees of the old machines are worried that their favorite snacks will be slashed from the new menu. “They better keep my beef jerky because that was a staple,” threatened junior Mohamed Awad. Though the high sodium, high fat, preservative-pumped meat strips may not make the cut, the minds behind InstaHealthy have taken care to provide healthy alternatives to many of the public’s favorite munchies. Instead of fried potato chips, students can choose from baked potato chips (having less fat), lentil chips (having more protein), and kale chips (packed with antioxidants). Rather than sodas, which are guaranteed to make one’s blood sugar skyrocket, green juices and teas will be up for grabs. If a student forgets their lunch and does not wish to chance the neighboring fast food joints, they can purchase a wholesome wrap or hearty salad. There will be options for all, even if they are initially unfamiliar.
When presented with the news of higher health standards, many students made an association with higher prices. Cladesia Kabing, a junior, observed, “It is good that the snacks will be healthier, but if it is expensive, kids will not buy it.” Her friend, fellow junior Battsetseg Erdenebulgan, asserted, “I am not going to buy a little six-dollar salad.” Fortunately, the aim of InstaHealthy is not to make a profit, but rather to spread the wealth of health. As such, they are committed to making their products affordable to all. The vending machines are supplied free of charge to schools that qualify, so TJ will acquire the new machines without having to pay a cent. Furthermore, the product prices were devised with a focus on affordability. Contrary to popular belief, many healthy snacks cost less than their sugar-loaded counterparts. Common name brands found in normal vending machines like Rice Krispies and Pop Tart often charge an extra thirty cents per product, banking on the recognizability of their trademark to attract unwitting buyers. Meanwhile, smaller companies like those supplying the InstaHealthy machines are able to settle for a smaller profit margin, having no need to fund major marketing endeavors. Thus, users of the new vending machines may save a few bucks while adding a few more years to their life.
Of course, the InstaHealthy machines will make no impact if the student body chooses to ignore them. “No one buys healthy snacks,” attested Benjamin Robinson. As a junior at TJ, he is confident his peers will find the InstaHealthy idea highly unappealing. Sophomore Emma Perl pointed out that students can easily turn to other options if they are not willing to test out the new vending machines. “There are always the cookies from DECA and the candy sold by JROTC,” she reasoned. “If they do not want the healthy snacks, they will not buy them.” As long as Spartans have the cash, they will never have to fear sugar withdrawals. One of the most popular fundraising strategies for clubs and classes at TJ is to sell food. As salads are not known to attract a crowd, the goods are almost always of an unhealthy nature. Thus, the temptations of junk food lurk around every corner.
Attitudes toward the InstaHealthy machines run across the board. Some view their arrival as a step toward a healthier future, while many dread the bland, unsatisfying flavors often associated with “health foods.” No matter the reactions to the new snacks, students will be granted a previously denied opportunity: the power to choose. If one craves an indulgent treat, they can turn to one of the many goodies sold by classes and clubs. If they are feeling low on vitamins and minerals, the InstaHealthy machines are at the ready. The old vending machines may have been removed, but satisfaction is still up for sale.