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School Board May Relax Vending Machine Rules

Phyllis Fletcher

The Seattle School Board may ease up on rules that keep junk food out of school vending machines. It all comes down to money. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher has more.


Money from vending machines goes into a school's ASB fund; that helps pay for sports, dances and the yearbook. Today, the machines can only sell things like granola bars and milk.

So vending machine money got a one–two punch. One: in 2004, the School Board decided to keep junk food out of machines, so students stopped using them as much. Two: the board promised to repay any money the vending machines lost, but the recession hit, and the board never did.

Michael DeBell: "We adopted a policy that was experimental in some ways."

Michael DeBell is president of the Seattle School Board. He says the School Board was on the cutting edge of a trend, that other cities and states have made rules to get junk food out of vending machines. But they've been a little looser than the School Board.

So now DeBell and some other board members want to ease up. DeBell says their first goal is to let school vending machines make some real cash again.

DeBell: "The second is to hope that we can find products that are perhaps healthier than running down to the mini mart for a bag of chips or a candy bar, that students can access easily at school, that are a healthier alternative."

The School Board floated the possibility of relaxing the rules a couple weeks ago.

A few days after that, the Seattle City Council decided to pull junk food from vending machines at community centers.

In that case, a Parks Department official says they know they'll lose money, but that revenue is not their most important concern.

I'm Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2011, KUOW

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