Opinion: Campus vending machines lack healthy options

By Erik Rotness, A&F Editor

Erik Rotness is the A&F Editor for The Easterner. The opinion expressed in this article is his own, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Easterner’s editorial board.

I’m a transfer student here at EWU.

I missed out on the glorious first two years of being an Eagle in favor of community college prices and free housing with mom and dad. And while I’m sure there are plenty of unique EWU experiences that I missed out on during those two years, one experience I undoubtedly have in common with students across campus and throughout the years is subjecting myself to the salty, fatty, sugary food we have in our vending machines.

Doritos? Love ‘em.

Nutty Buddy? Reminds me of childhood.

Grandma’s brand cookies? It’s like grandma made them herself, but there isn’t a single time I’ve eaten something from a vending machine on campus and thought, “You know what body? You’re welcome for that nutritional contribution I just made.”

A study published in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Research found that, after interviewing 620 students, more than half of them used vending machines occasionally. The study references other journal articles showing that vending machines commonly consist of high energy, low nutrient foods.

Based off that study, and my much more than occasional contribution to the vending machine coffers, shouldn’t the idea that a large number of students eat unhealthy vending machine food inspire a better option than Muddy Buddies? Over 42% of students in the study responded that they’d like to see fruit offered in the machines.

Another study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion in 2018 showed that, after increasing the proportion of healthier vending machine options from 20% to 80%, there was a significant reduction in the amount of fat, sodium, sugar and calories vended without negatively impacting the profit.

Sometimes you’re not in the mood for a healthy snack. I get it. If I even think about the cinematic treasure that is “E.T.” my mouth starts watering for some Reese’s Pieces.

Students aren’t victims of malicious vending machine practices either. A little self-control and some Kind bars in your backpack go a long way.

But students are going to buy those snacks, and if I’m in Isle Hall and I start patting myself on the back because the baked Lays tout 65% less fat, I know we can push for a few better options.