In order to remain eligible for federal subsidies for school lunches, officials at Davis High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, knew they weren't allowed to have active vending machines selling soda and candy in the school lunchroom during the 47-minute lunch period.
But rules designed to keep kids from washing down their lunches with something fizzy can be tricky. That lesson was driven home when the state Office of Education's Child Nutrition Program hit the school with a $15,862 fine—75 cents per violation over the period of many months that it turns out students had been illicitly selling soda in the school store.
Fearing more fines, the school has pulled the plug on all of its vending until it can figure out what the rules require. Because students eat lunch in the hallways, vending may actually be banned throughout the school.
A local ABC affiliate reports that the school is considering extreme measures:
There are also plans at Davis High to put soda and candy vending machines in a converted janitor’s closet, with a door, to comply with federal guidelines.
Compounding the situation in the long term, the school vending machines generate revenue to help fund nonrevenue-related school activities such as debate, new computers for the classroom, or royalties for the songs used in the school musical, Burton said.
"The money we'll lose by not being able to sell the items amounts to thousands and thousands of dollars," he said.
The school will also have to the cover the cost of the fine out of general funds.
For lots more Reason on the subversive history of the vending machine, start here and click backward unto eternity.