Healthy Vending Comes to the Buffalo Public Schools


As a parent of 2 kids, ages 7 and 12, I've always felt that I owed it to my girls to teach them about the importance of exercise and proper nutrition. That's not to say they don't partake in the occasional indulgence like a trip to the ice cream store or popcorn at the movies, but we try to maintain a balance.  

My interest in wellness segued to the school level when my oldest daughter began attending a public school. After a few years the school had outgrown the building with its tiny urban grounds where the kids regularly played "catch the hobo". The new space was much larger and it had a huge plot of undeveloped land. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to build a playground, and so within a year the project was complete.

A couple years later, I saw an article about the Baltimore Public Schools and how they were transitioning their food system to bring more farm fresh, healthy options to their students. I knew that Buffalo students, similar to kids across the nation, had complaints about processed school lunches and I thought the Baltimore example was a great one to bring positive change to school dining. When my daughter entered a Buffalo Public School I committed myself to advocacy work surrounding healthy changes to nutrition as well as physical health and mental well-being.  I now serve as a committee member on our District's Wellness Council, I am co-chair of the District's nutrition committee, and I am a member of the wellness team at my daughter's school.

I am currently engaged in launching programs that support our school district's wellness policy, and one of those projects is school vending.  The Buffalo Public Schools have launched a pilot program in 2 city schools to introduce healthy vending options to students. Machines are filled with waters, unsweetened teas, dried fruits, nuts, Kind Bars, and other 100% whole grain snacks.

The program has been a huge success and not only does it provide kids with a healthy snack choice, it has also created a stream of revenue to replace what was lost when the district cancelled its contract with Coke products. These funds will be used to support wellness team initiatives, prom, yearbook, and a variety of other school clubs. 

Even more exciting is the innovative educational component that has been proposed to support and grow the program. Participating schools will appoint groups to run the vending machines like a small business. They will create business plans, manage bookkeeping, order, stock, and market the products in an effort to help them build entrepreneurial business skills. The district believes this program will afford them a fantastic opportunity to lead by example as they continue to focus on wellness initiatives that support their nationally mandated wellness policy. They expect the program to be rolled out District wide by September 2015. Our next step is to reach out to community and business partners to sponsor or adopt this program.

I hope this inspires you to work towards making healthy changes in your child's school!

Adrienne Romanowicz 


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