Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lack of healthy options in Camosun vending machines questioned

March 16, 2016 by Mikayla Russell, contributing writer

Scanning the vending machines at Camosun College, one is face to face with a lot of junk food and not a lot of healthy options. Potato chips and chocolate bars are there, but there’s not much in the way of more nutritious food.

This is what has Camosun first-year Early Learning and Care student Charly-Ann Pare concerned. She was hungry during a five-minute break between classes one day; she’s trying to eat healthy, and wandered over to a vending machine to get a snack.

“I hadn’t eaten anything, so I went to the vending machine and realized all there was was chocolate bars and chips,” says Pare. “The only somewhat healthy item was a cinnamon roll granola bar, which is full of sugar. Do they care about the students, or do they only care about the profits?”

But Camosun tried adding healthy options to vending machines on campus in the past, and didn’t have much luck, according to Camosun vice president of student experience Joan Yates.

“In terms of history, we did do this a few years back, and a number of students got back to us and they kind of liked the unhealthy options, so we went back,” says Yates. “The vending machines aren’t run by the college itself, but if students have an interest in healthier options, we would certainly look into that.”

A look inside one of Camosun’s vending machines (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

A look inside one of Camosun’s vending machines (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

Students have healthier options at both campuses in the cafeterias and bookstores, but evening classes and small breaks can jeopardize students’ chances to make a stop to grab something healthy, a barrier that the college does recognize.

“The biggie, of course, is that not all those services are available late at night or on weekends, when students might be here and, indeed, the vending machines are the only option,” says Yates.

Pare says that while the college has healthier options available on campus, it would be nice for the vending machines to have some of those healthier options as well, adding that students should have access to food that will benefit their learning.

“If you’re stressed out during midterms, you want something healthy to give your brain energy,” says Pare. “That will help you in the long run.”

Pare says that schools should be leading institutions in nutrition, saying that there are many students who are trying to eat healthier, to say nothing of the students who are on various diets or are restricted in what they can eat.

“If that one student doesn’t have anything to eat and is trying to lose weight,” says Pare, “why doesn’t the nutrition start in the schools?”

It’s not uncommon for institutions such as schools, as well as hospitals and various businesses, to have healthier options in their vending machines nowadays. One popular rule of thumb is known as “the 80/20 rule,” which refers to when a vending machine is stocked with 80 percent healthy food and 20 percent non-healthy food.

“I recently went to an elementary school and was surprised when most of the food [in their vending machines] was healthy,” says Pare. “If public schools and rec centres are making the change, why isn’t Camosun? I think it would be nice for students to have the same opportunities as everywhere else.”

First-year Digital Production, Writing and Design student Jacob Slipp says that while he thinks junk food is “nice,” he wants variety.

“I don’t want vending machines to be exclusive to fruit or exclusive to Mars bars,” says Slipp. “I want variety.”

First-year Arts and Science student Shayan Bueno says that it would be nice to have more healthier options in Camosun’s vending machines.

“Students would eat healthier instead of binging on junk food,” says Bueno, adding that the “vending machine snacks are very overpriced for the small amounts you get.”

As for the future, Camosun’s Yates says that the college is definitely open to hearing what people want to see in the vending machines.

“We are sure willing to have conversations,” says Yates. “We are happy to look at what those may need to be.”

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One Response to “Lack of healthy options in Camosun vending machines questioned”
  1. Lindel Creed says:

    Funny how they seem to know what is so called health in their bill but when it comes to the discussion the USDA says the “No clear standards exist to define foods as good or bad, or healthy or not healthy; ”…/files/arra/FSPFoodRestrictions.pdf
    If these so called foods are so bad for us that one or two a day will kill us then why are they still on the grocery shelves and these same products can be purchased using snap program?
    Funny how the government will allow tax money to be used to buy the same products that they are trying to ban from their own buildings.

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