New Vending Machines Spark the Interest of Central Students


Calei Loy, Staff Writer

New school vending machines filled with Pepsi products rather than Coke may not sound like a huge change for the school. However, the types of products in the machines have caused some controversy.

The new machines came as a surprise to most students. The actual design of the machine has an earthy design, with leaves and “helloGoodness” displayed at the top. A calorie counter is located above the bill slot. The side circles feature brands such as Gatorade, Lipton, and Pure Leaf that work as good alternatives to soda.

The cause of controversy comes with the inclusion of KickStarts. Many students at Central saw these as energy drinks and were concerned that they were being offered at school. Other students were excited with this new option, as was evident with the strikingly low amount that were left after just the first week.

“I believe that (the new vending machines) have a negative impact on students because of the sugar,” said freshman Hannah Wesley.

Josey Crew, Child Nutrition Director of Hardin County Schools, explains that KickStarts are not energy drinks and are compliant with nutritional guidelines.

“They get that misconception because they obviously look like energy drinks and are marketed as such,” Crew said. “However, they are equivalent to a soda with a few more calories, so they do have some caffeine in them but nothing like the levels in a Red Bull or any other energy soda. Kickstarts are actually HALF the caffeine of these other drinks.”

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) currently limits 60 calories per 12 fluid ounces in school lunches. The Kickstarts being offered, fortunately, contain only 58 calories. However, there is no real way to limit students on how many of these they consume, and many students drink multiple of these a day. 

Last week during class hours, there were multiple students outside of classrooms and in line for empty and out-of-order vending machines, particularly to get KickStarts.

Biology teacher Jonathon Fairbanks, whose classroom is near the vending machines, has noticed the popularity.

“There must be something to the Mtn Dew Kickstart,” says Fairbanks. “I’ve seen more students with them than any other drink that has been sold here.”

At this point, the vending machines are on a timer and cannot be used until 1:30 which is after PowerHour. This was not the case during the first week, however.

This change is due to USDA regulations that there can be nothing competing with school lunch programs.

“I think there was just a miscommunication with Pepsi…It all comes down to federal school lunch guidelines,” principal Tim Isaacs explained. “So right now they’re saying, until they get clarification from the federal government, it has to be on a timer.” 

The takeaway for students is to be mindful of consumption.

 Articles like “The Buzz About Caffeine and Health” from Harvard Health Publishing say that the unhealthy contents of sodas provide reason to eliminate or reduce intake.