"Midday Snack" by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

Bring back the vending machine

Whether your lunch has just been stolen by a mysterious thief or you’ve forgotten your water bottle at home, everyone has a day where they’re forced to stay hungry or thirsty. While there used to be a quick, simple solution — a short trip to the vending machines — now, there’s nothing to do. Situations like these make it clear that it’s high time for the vending machines to be returned to the high school campus.

When the COVID-19 pandemic was in full-swing last year, the school administration, along with the COVID-19 committee, made the decision to remove the vending machines on campus during the time when school was online.

However, now that more people are on campus and the regulations aren’t as strict, the school should take a second look at vending machines; they’re convenient and beneficial for students.

The main reason the vending machines are still suspended is because of concerns of possible overcrowding in front of them, according to Director of the Physical Plant Jay Holman and Head of School Lee Thomsen. When the pandemic first started, that made sense because the social distancing regulations were much harsher. 

At present, regulations have gotten more lenient. Even so, the potential risk of just a few masked kids buying snacks is minuscule when compared to the fact that everyone is already back on campus and attending full-sized classes.

A Dec. 2 Octagon poll answered by 45 high-schoolers, 93.3% of the responses favored bringing the vending machines back. Many students wanted the drinks previously sold by the machines, including water or juice, to be accessible for purchase. In addition, they wanted to be able to grab snacks like beef jerky or chips. 

One of the main problems students face is that there is no option to get water or drinks if they forget to bring a water bottle. In fact, some students are seen “waterfalling” each other’s drinks. To “waterfall,” a person allows another person to  drink  from the same container by pouring it into their mouth from an elevated height instead of touching the rim.

If anything, reckless actions like “waterfalling” that stem from a basic need of water bring more eyebrow-raising implications for COVID-19 safety.

A similar story can be said for the snacks as well. Vending machines were a convenient option for students to buy refreshments or even buy food as a substitute for not bringing lunch. Now that options are scarce, and many students resort to buying lunch off campus, asking their friends for food or, in some cases, even taking the school lunches ordered by other students. Many of these issues would be solved if the school were to bring back vending machines.

Compromises can be worked out to help social distance safely if the vending machines were to be returned. To combat concerns for overcrowding, for example, a limit could be placed on the amount of students at the machines at one time.

Finally, restoring some of the conveniences on campus will be a good reward for the students and faculty who have proved their ability to continue learning amidst the pandemic.

Originally published in the Dec. 14 edition of the Octagon.

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