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Pop goes vending machine revenue

Whistler already well on the way to junk food-free schools

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Some school districts are bracing for another reduction in revenue — this time the culprit is reduced sales from high school vending machines.

Come September, school vending machines must be junk-food free thanks to a new policy brought in by the provincial government.

Surrey’s Board of Education has been discussing the issue for some time said chair Reni Masi.

“The revenues will probably go down about 40 to 50 per cent, so it will be quite significant,” he said.

It’s not unusual for Surrey schools to make $30,000 a year from their vending machines so a drop of up to half will cut deeply into programs such as sports and music events which have traditionally benefited from the money.

Masi said students, many of whom have access to a car, would go to corner stores or fast food outlets if they can’t get their snacks of choice of schools.

While he supports the move to ban junk food he believes the board has a duty to monitor the impact.

“We are not really sure what the impact will be so we are going to measure it over the year,” said Masi of the 26 Surrey high schools.

“It is not a budget item per se but we are going to watch it closely and where we can help we will help. It is going to be an awkward year because we really don’t know what to budget for.”

Connie Denesiuk, recently elected president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, said the experience for every school in B.C. would likely be different as plans are put in place to see how to make up a shortfall.

“There has been some lead time on this so schools have had some time to plan and prepare for this, but there is no question that there will be some challenges that this will put forward.

“But when you weigh what the right thing is to do… and the right thing to do is to ensure that our students are provided with healthy choices when they are at school everyday.”

That idea was the driving force behind Whistler parent and Secondary School secretary Chris Shoup’s drive to get junk food out of the school five years ago. The school also runs a small parent-operated concession, which serves a healthy lunch each day.

“What are you showing your children otherwise?” said Shoup.

“You are telling them that they can go to school all day on coke and chocolate bars and shellac and #40, heck no.

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