Healthy snacks, one at a time

MARQUETTE – Students at Bothwell Middle School have a new source of snacks, a healthy vending machine has been installed at the school to help students make nutritious choices during the school day.

“We decided since vending companies in the area didn’t provide healthy snack choices that we would start a vending program on our own,” guidance couselor Lesley Addison said. “So we bought a machine and brought in snacks along with the Marquette Food Co-op and had our tast testers select what they wanted in the machine.”

Under the United States Department of Agriculture-established Smart Snacks in School initiative, Bothwell students worked in colobration with the Marquette Food Co-op to bring healthier snacks into the school. Eight Bothwell Middle School students – two from each grade – were selected from the fifth through the eighth grade to come up with snacks they felt their classmates would eat.

When the students were asked why they felt this initiative was important, eighth grader Mitchell Connon said, “This helps show kids healthy food can taste good.”

Under the USDA’s initiative, the students taste tested foods brought in by Sarah Monte, the education coordinator at the Food Co-op, and had to fit them to the standards established by the Smart Snacks in Schools criteria.

“We helped the students with a food tasting to select snacks that they would like to see in the vending machine,” Monte said.

Before the vending machine in Bothwell’s lunch room was filled with things like Jolly Ranchers, Doritos and Kit-Kat bars. Based on the choices these eight students made, now some of the favorites in the vending machine are Dry Roasted Edamame, Fruit Ropes, and Go-Go Applesauce.

“It is getting a very positive reaction from the kids,” Addison saId. “It is hard to keep it stocked and you can tell what the hot sellers are.”

The motto of Bothwell’s students was “Helping to make the healthy choice the easy choice.” Their goal was not to choose just healthy food but to help the students at BMS make a better choice.

“It’s our first step in providing a resource for our kids, especially ones in after school activities, a healthy snack choice to keep them going during their activities,” Addison said.

Sylvia Stevens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.