Fruit Juice, Water Top School Vending Machine Choices

Hamburgers, pizza are popular a la carte items, survey finds

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MONDAY, Aug. 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Fruit juice and water are the most commonly stocked items in U.S. school vending machines, says a survey of school foodservices directors.

The survey of "competitive foods" in schools was conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, who also found that hamburgers, pizza and sandwiches are the top-selling a la carte food items in schools.

Competitive foods refers to items that can be bought in vending machines, snack bars and fundraisers, as opposed to items bought in traditional school breakfast and lunch programs.

The researchers noted that there is minimal regulation on competitive foods and not much is known about their sale and availability.

The survey found that 71.5 percent of schools offer water in their vending machines and 67.4 percent offer fruit juice. The top-selling a la carte items in schools were:

  • hamburgers, pizza and sandwiches
  • cookies, crackers, cakes, pastries and other baked goods
  • french fries
  • salty snacks
  • carbonated beverages
  • water
  • ice cream or frozen yogurt.

The survey also found that a la carte sales provided an average of about $700 a day to the schools' foodservice programs, about 85 percent of which receive no financial support from their school districts.

"Competitive food sales appear to be providing needed funding for the schools and school foodservice programs, as other funding sources are decreasing," the study authors wrote. "Although it has not been determined if there is a relationship between public funding for education or foodservice and the sale of competitive foods, decisions will need to be made that balance the schools' ongoing need for funding with the nutritional needs of students."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about school lunches.

SOURCE: American Dietetic Association, news release, Aug. 1, 2005

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