Top | Sift

Junk-food replacements?

(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)

Over the past few years, school districts across the country have been trying to healthify their cafeteria and vending-machine offerings. In October, as part of its "PA Preferred" program, the state of Pennsylvania launched a pilot program to offer "healthy" vending machines in local schools.

One program machine went into a Pennsylvania high school last fall; in March, a second was donated to another high school by Dennis Wolff, the state's agricultural secretary, to celebrate National Agriculture Day. Both machines came stocked with milk from a local dairy, 100-percent fruit juices from two local producers, and apple slices and applesauce from local farms. 

Thus far, the best sellers have been string cheese, low-fat milk, and yogurt, followed closely by a variety of juices. Applesauce and apple slices haven't drawn as many student fans. 

A number of Pennsylvania schools have joined a waiting list for the new machines. Keeping the vending machines stocked with fresh products, however, has proved challenging. Schools with agricultural programs are likely next in line for the machines, allowing agricultural students to take an active role in the program.

For at least some of Pennsylvania's students, the program brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "eating locally."