Vending machines are a controversial addition to the existing food programs of schools across the country. As childhood obesity becomes a more widespread issue, state governments are passing laws controlling the machines.
Vending machines in schools typically carry sugary or salty snack products. The drink machines carry sodas, diet sodas, sports drinks, and juices.
Vending machines in schools are controversial because they can give children access to unhealthy foods. Lawmakers have expressed concern that the vending machines contribute to childhood obesity because of their contents.
Aside from providing kids with a quick snack, vending machines also provide the schools with revenue to help pay for after school programs and other extra-curricular activities.
As of 2010, Arkansas is the only state that bans vending machines from their schools. Other states have passed laws requiring vending machines to offer more nutritional products.
According to a Centers for Disease Control survey, 43 percent of elementary schools have vending machines. Vending machines are much more common at the higher grade levels: 89 percent of middle schools and 98 percent of high schools have the machines.