What’s up With the Vending Machines?
We have all seen the new vending machines around campus. They are big, luxurious, sleek. They have wide, glass doors so curious students peeking in can look at all the goodies inside. Now accepting Flex Dollars, these vending machines have the potential to be a new, hot commodity around campus. Unfortunately thought, these machines are not without strife.
On the first floor of Pearsons, there are three of these glorious, modern beasts. Currently, however, the Pearsons machines are quite sparse. One machine has gum, 5 Hour Energy, and Advil. Another only has half of the bottom row supplied. There are a few cheese sticks, a small container of chips and salsa, and Panera mac and cheese and soup. The remaining ones are more full, but the vast majority are filled with Doritos, Cheetos, Lays and Pringles. There are Kit Kats and M&Ms, Pop-Tarts and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Big Texas Cinnamon Rolls, Iced Honey Buns, and frosted donuts. The only healthy options are trail mix and a few healthier types of granola bars, like Clif and Kind bars.
In the past, DK’s used to fill this space. Before COVID, there was actual hot food being served, and it was a great alternative to Commons. It was also where students got lunch if they had back to back classes. Last year, DK’s consisted of cold lunches; pre-packaged sandwiches and salads and fruit. They had actual meals for students to eat. Unlike this year. The loss of DK’s and a food service on the academic side of campus means some students are unable to eat lunch in between afternoon classes. The most they can do is grab a quick snack, and if they were hoping for something with nutritional value, they would be out of luck, unless they were really craving a cheese stick or some peanuts. The only full meals are the soup and the mac and cheese, both of which require a microwave.
The lack of sustenance in the vending machines isn’t the only bump they have had along the way. Upon first installation, the machines in the basement of the Powerhouse were not too popular with students. First, they were in the basement, which is more of an inconvenience. Second, they originally only took credit cards. Students did not enjoy the idea of paying for food with their own money, when they were already paying for the meal plan. There was also a lack of basic necessities in these machines. They were advertised as a place to buy food and snacks, as well as toothpaste, deodorant, or other things a student might need. They did not live up to this. These machines were also installed along with “Bel-Mart”, which was advertised as a place for students to get free, frozen meals. It seemed as if it was frozen leftover Commons, and not too many students went for the idea. If these machines are to be a source of food for students, there needs to be healthier options, or at least some more meal options.
These new vending machines have popped up in the Powerhouse and on the first floor of Pearsons, but there are some traditional vending machines that still take cash, and none are more horrific than those in the mailroom. Nestled in the basement of Pearsons, these machines are available for all to gaze upon in utter horror. These vending machines have tuna salad, chicken salad, and hot dogs. Who made the choice to put hot dogs in a vending machine is unclear, but it is evident that it is not the meal option students were looking for, as students who have witnessed this expressed confusion and repulsion at the sight of it.
It seems that with the addition of the Powerhouse, as well as dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Beloit has been trying out various different modes of food service. Some of it has worked, some of it has not. These vending machines are something that have the potential to be an option for students looking for food, especially since the building is open all day and all night, but whether the machines will be a replacement for DK’s is something all students must wait to find out.