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Sunday, March 03, 2024 — Houston, TX

New vending machines open with healthy alternatives

farmers-fridge-amelia-davis-web
Amelia Davis / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     1/23/24 9:36pm

New vending machines have been placed in West Servery, the second-floor vending area in the Brockman Hall for Physics and the seventh floor near the student lounge in the Biosciences Research Collaborative, according to David McDonald, interim associate vice president of Housing and Dining.

In collaboration with Canteen Vending Services, the company that provides all of the campus’ vending machines, these new Farmer’s Fridge vending machines host “fresh, convenient meals,” according to their website.

McDonald said that H&D is aiming to use modern vending machines to bring healthier food options to campus, in addition to the pre-existing snacks and drinks.



“We are also responding to data about fresh food options being more readily available and for late evening hours,” McDonald wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We are anticipating a higher service level for graduate students by placing machines near higher-volume labs. However, we are also simultaneously adding them to spaces occupied by undergraduates, such as at the West Servery. If the program goes well, we anticipate expanding the program to more buildings and colleges.”

Kennedy King, a senior at Duncan College, said that she bought a pesto pasta dish from the machine once.

“I only used it once, but it ended up being pretty convenient because the servery was closed, and I hadn’t eaten anything,” King said. “I didn’t want chips from the vending machine; I wanted a meal, so it’s been pretty convenient, even though I don’t use it that often.”

McMurtry College junior Janhvi Somaiya said she was surprised when she first saw the new vending machine, as it looked different from the others on campus. Though she hasn’t yet used the machine, she acknowledged its convenience as a late-night food option.

“I haven’t really used it before, and I don’t anticipate using it maybe more than once,” Somaiya said. “Sometimes I stay on campus [late], so I’m not going to get access to the food at home. It could be nice as an option. I just haven’t necessarily explored it yet, nor do I see myself doing it a lot.”

The machines offer salads, breakfast options, bowls, sandwiches, snacks and proteins, according to the company website. The chocolate chia pudding is $5.49, the cobb salad is $8.99, the harvest grain bowl is $7.49, the baja chicken wrap is $8.49 and white cheddar cheese cubes are sold for $2.79.

Somaiya said that if someone is looking for a convenient, healthier option on campus, she thinks that this is a decent choice.

“I don’t think it’s something you would go to regularly just because of the price, or at least I wouldn’t,” Somaiya said. “It’s more of if I accidentally skipped dinner, or I just needed something to eat in between at a time where the servery wasn’t open, maybe I would consider getting something from there. But the prices are a little [on the higher end], at least for me.”

Since the vending machines were implemented in January, McDonald said H&D has not gathered data about the success and popularity of these machines yet.



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