Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Soda out as Pinellas School District takes over vending machine operation

When the Pinellas School District’s vending machine contract with Pepsi expired, the director of food services saw an opportunity.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times (2003)

When the Pinellas School District’s vending machine contract with Pepsi expired, the director of food services saw an opportunity.

ST. PETERSBURG — Starting this fall, Pinellas County high school students will find new vending machines on campus.

Out: soft drinks and sugary beverages.

In: fruit juices and flavored water.

"It bothered me that at high schools, you have carbonated beverages for sale as they walk off the bus," said Art Dunham, the district's food services director. "They (students) drink six to eight Cokes a day, and you wonder why we are having an obesity problem."

The time is ripe for change, district officials said.

For starters, new Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said he would like to shut down or restrict vending machines in schools if he can. Also, federal lawmakers last year passed the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act that calls for healthier options in school vending machines.

So, when the district's contract with Pepsi ended this school year, Dunham saw an opportunity.

In May, Pinellas School Board members approved spending $565,000 on 140 new vending machines. Dunham also worked out a business plan, which includes hiring four to six people to fill the new machines and a new vehicle to distribute the goods.

The food services department is independently funded by the federal government and lunch payments, Dunham said.

A portion of a community grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — about $1.3 million — also will be used to pay for marketing the drinks to students, said Peggy Johns, the district's prekindergarten to 12th-grade health education supervisor.

Students will pay $1 or less for the drinks, Dunham said.

Whether the new plan will bring in as much money to schools is another matter.

Traditionally, beverage corporations such as Pepsi often pay high schools an access fee for housing their vending machines and a fraction for every case of beverages sold.

Schools receive $35,000 to $50,000 from this, and principals can spend the cash on supplies, electronic equipment, student recognition programs and more.

The money is helpful when public schools' funding is being slashed. "I've been watching the budget," said Walt Weller, Seminole High principal. "I reserve it as much as I could knowing I could go into lean years."

Under Dunham's plan, schools will get to keep the proceeds of the sales. He's relying on volume to make the program profitable, though that may take a little time.

"In high schools, there are 2,000 kids in each and there are 16 high schools, so there are 36,000 kids," Dunham said. "By the end of next school year, we will break even."

But some principals noted that changing out the beverage option doesn't necessarily produce healthy students. Students will still drink what they want after school or bring their own beverages to school, Weller said.

"I agree we should give them choices, but we need to educate, educate, educate," he said.

Soda out as Pinellas School District takes over vending machine operation 08/20/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 19, 2011 6:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh

    Soccer

    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.