A new guide on how to set up healthy vending machines

A new guide on how to set up healthy vending machines and make a profit in secondary schools – selling drinks such as milk, pure fruit juice and water – is launched today.

The new guide, the first of its kind, provides schools with practical and commercially sound advice on where best to locate the machines, what products to stock and why it’s important to involve both staff and students in the decision-making process about what to vend.

‘Vending Healthy Drinks’ is the result of a project funded by the Food Standards Agency and supported by The Health Education Trust and The Dairy Council. It is being sent to UK secondary schools in a bid to encourage head teachers and caterers to offer more healthy drinks in vending machines.

The guide is based on the results of an 18-month pilot study tracking the success of 12 healthy drinks machines, which were placed in secondary schools of varying size and character in Hertfordshire, Wales, Devon and Cumbria.

The pioneering project proved that not only are healthy drinks machines popular with students (about 70,000 drinks were purchased in less than six months) but that they can also be profitable for the school.

Within the guide, healthier drinks are defined as those drinks that contribute towards a balanced diet and do not contain high levels of fat or added sugar. Such drinks include pure fruit juices, milk and water.

Julia Unwin, Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said: 'The Agency believes that pupils should have free access to water in schools. However, when it comes to pupils buying drinks from vending machines our research shows that, if given a choice, youngsters frequently opt for healthier drinks. The Agency's guide therefore provides practical advice on how schools can achieve this and help promote healthier teenage diets.'

Joe Harvey, Health Education Trust Director, added: 'The guide's publication is timely, as many schools are wanting to ensure that pupils have access to healthier choices. There's no doubt in my mind that it will help schools establish an effective and profitable healthy drinks vending machine, as part of the whole-school approach to food and nutrition.'

Jean McEntire, Chief Executive Officer of the National Governors’ Council said: 'The National Governors' Council welcomes this guide. Our own survey of governing bodies told us that the overwhelming majority of governors believe that schools need much healthier policies around food and drink but were unsure about how to go about it. This guide will therefore be very helpful and we will be recommending it to school governing bodies.'

Vending Healthy Drinks: a guide for schools (PDF Document)



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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