Students fight cost of vending machine goodies

Most teens crave a little snack to make it through the day, but many think vending machine prices at their schools are too high. Some young entrepreneurs have tried to capitalize on this idea by bringing their own snacks and selling them for a much cheaper price.

“In my opinion, the vending machine prices are doubled, and what you’re buying is worth much less than you’re paying,” said Ikeianecia Smith, a sophomore at Northeast High School.

“So if someone else sold the same thing for a cheaper price, I’d buy it from them before the vending machine.”

Most snacks in school vending machines are about $1, but some students sell snacks for half that price.

Central High School junior James Smith said he worked as an “undercover vendor” at his school until he was busted by a campus police officer, who turned him in.

“I sold out, or came close to selling out, a pretty big duffle bag every day,” Smith said. “At the peak, I was selling all the popular kinds of candies, gum, Pringles, chips, sodas, water and even some homemade Kool-Aid.”

Smith said he generally made $65 to $75 per week, and at the height of his operation, he made $100 per week.

After two semesters, he said, he made about $2,000, which he put in a savings account.

Robert Collins, a junior at Northeast, said he didn’t see any problem with teens buying snacks from student vendors.

“The kids that buy foods from other students aren’t wrong. They’re just getting what they want for a cheaper price,” he said. “A dollar for one thing in the vending machine is OK, but as teenagers who don’t have jobs, it’s hard for us to comply with high daily spending.”

Northeast principal Sam Scavella did not specifically address the issue of students selling their own snacks but said vending machines benefit the school.

Money from the vending machines offsets the cost of student incentives, which are used to motivate students to achieve academic goals.

Many students said they appreciate classmates who sell snacks outside the vending machines.

“I applaud the people who come and sell their own stuff because it helps out people like me who can do nothing to combat the ever rising costs of the snack machine,” said Victor Crawford, a junior at Northeast.

Katy Newcomer, a junior at Central High School, contributed to this story. Stephon Gordon is a junior at Northeast High School.