School Vending Machines

Boy in front of vending machine

School vending machines sell food and beverages during the school day that are outside of the federal reimbursable school meal programs. As of 2014—2015, these competitive foods sold in school vending machines must meet or exceed the federal Smart Snacks in Schoolexternal icon nutrition standards, which include limits on fat, sugar, sodium, and calorie content.

Students can consume almost half of their daily calories when they are at school. Although school vending machines can be a convenient source of food and beverages throughout the day, the items sold should be healthy options. Local education agencies should ensure that local school wellness policies include Smart Snacks standards for vending machines, and schools should make sure that foods and beverages in vending machines meet the standards.

CDC Vending Machine Study
Vending Machine Report Front Cover

As part of the School Health Policies and Practices Study, 2014, CDC analyzed photographs of a nationally representative sample of school vending machines available to students prior to the Smart Snacks implementation.

The report, Characteristics of Vending Machines Available to Students in U.S. Schools: Results from the School Health Policies and Practices Study, 2014 pdf icon[PDF – 10 MB], highlights key findings including

  • Descriptions of machine type.
  • Prevalence of specific foods and beverages.
  • Marketing on machines.