Too Much for too Little: Vending Machine Snacks

By Asmita Saha

From energy drinks and water to crackers and chips, vending machines have always served as a convenient and affordable way for NHP students to fuel themselves throughout their busy days. Crowds swarming the vending machines in the cafeteria are a common sight to see at New Hyde Park Memorial, but a gradual increase in prices could change how many students view and use their once “cheap options.”

Inflation has no small part to play in this increase. Due to the pandemic, companies have faced higher material costs, labor shortages and increased delivery wait times. As prices of production continue to rise, companies are pressured to maintain their profit margins. They are not the only ones getting the short end of the stick, however, since manufacturers are battling through food and supply shortages as well. As supply chains continue to be pushed, it is likely that high inflation will continue to climb.

“I've noticed that before the pandemic, around 2019, the lowest price was at $1.00, but now it's gone up to $1.50, which I assume is from COVID and the school just wanting to raise the prices for more money,” freshman Janice Zhang said.

Source by Lauren DiGregorio

Supply shortages cause rows to become vacant in vending machines.

Prices are not determined by Memorial’s administration, though. Vending machine providers create contracts with districts to supply schools with easy access to snacks, and make a profit. Schools then use the money made from these machines to fund student activities. NHP has not gained much these past three years mainly because of issues with the providers. All snacks at NHP have a base cost of $1.50, with drink prices ranging up to $2.00. While some are willing to spend a few extra cents, others are turned away by the new prices. Not all snacks are available all day either, as some are consistently sold out.

Artwork by Shadia Zayer

Students frequently bring extra cash to school in order to get a snack from the vending machines.

“I usually go to the senior cafeteria’s vending machine, since it isn’t always sold out like the other one. $1.50 isn’t bad for Snapple, since at the Shack it's two dollars,” freshman Jaimy Mathew said.

It is known that the Shack has many more, and maybe even better, options than the vending machines. With a variety of snacks such as their famous Shack fries, mac n’ cheese bites and mozzarella sticks, the Shack has continued to attract a large student body after school once it opens its windows, with their prices all five dollars or under. These differences between the Shack and vending machines can be attributed to the numerous fundraisers organized by the Dads' Club, which owns the Shack. However, students with later lunch periods often cannot wait for the Shack to open to eat their snacks.

“I usually use them during my lunch period because by that time I’m hungry and sometimes I want chips to go along with my lunch. I usually get chips from the cafeteria vending machines,” freshman Crystal Wu said.

Certainly, vending machines have proven to be irreplaceable for both students and staff needing a quick bite to eat. Whether it be forgotten food, a bad lunch or simply not having a lunch period, vending machines have come to the rescue. Hopefully, they will see a more frugal future as the pandemic life slowly fades away.