Food for thought: Why are the vending machines closed?


Since Thursday, September 1, Niles North students and faculty have been unable to use the vending machines from lunch periods 3-7 (9:44 AM to 1:44 PM). As a result, students have been annoyed by this and struck complaints against the school’s new policy. 

North Star News believes that this new policy is a complete overreaction. In short, it punishes a majority for a loud minority – because the school claims people have been using their passing periods unwisely, now all of the student body is forced to use the morning to buy their snacks for the whole day. It’s utterly questionable that the administration only closes the vending machines during lunch periods and not any other periods during the day, since going to the vending machines during lunch is the most popular time to grab snacks. The administrators closed the vending machines due to clusters, but why only during lunch periods?

Additionally, we feel as if this over-exaggeration could be a ploy for money, and we are not the only ones that feel this way as well. One teacher said the cafeteria may just want more money – a ‘cash-grab’ that’s forcing students to buy from the cafeteria just so that they can make more money – leading to why the school decided to shut down the vending machines, presumably using students’ increasing tardiness levels as an excuse. An older substitute teacher struggled to use the machines one afternoon, and as a passerby student felt pity for the teacher, she informed her they do not work during the day. 

We think the vending machines should be accessible during lunch. People don’t usually have time in the day to get something to eat.

— Althea Laqui and Aamina Laheri, juniors

Junior Jannat Rana also went to buy snacks before she knew the vending machines didn’t work. She put in her money, and shortly after, she realized she wasn’t able to select a snack, a security guard from the cafeteria informed her. She said she still hasn’t received her money back since that day.

I personally thought it was quite frustrating,” Rana said. “If the reason for closing the vending machines is due to clusters, I’d say there are clusters in many other areas of the school as well, so it doesn’t necessarily account as a reason for closing the vending machines.” 

We also feel as if this punishes people for things out of their control. There are students with certain medical issues – diabetics for an example – that have to eat small amounts during the day to maintain their blood sugar levels. Closing these machines now limits their accessibility to nutrition along with other students, who simply just want a snack to control minor hunger. 

“We think the vending machines should be accessible during lunch. People don’t usually have time in the day to get something to eat,” juniors Althea Laqui and Aamina Laheri said. “Without food, how can one pay attention in classes after starving for hours?”

At first, the school didn’t give the students a heads-up about the policy. However, recently after Rana’s trouble, an email regarding the machines was sent in the Nilesk12 email:

Source: Assistant Principal of Operations Marlon Felton

On the other hand, our sister school Niles West has no problems with their vending machines. West has vending machines scattered around their school, all remaining accessible throughout the day with, conceivably, less clustering in one area. That leads to more sparks of confusion regarding the school’s reasoning. 

So, why is it that Niles North students lost access to the vending machines during lunch periods, and West hasn’t? 

Possible ways of solving this issue can either be giving vending machine privilege to only those who have lunch during a certain time, having monitors at the vending machines and/or simply having conversations with those who abuse going to the vending machine (such as for skipping class/being tardy).

There are too many questions and not enough answers to this problem. If none are given and the machines stay closed during peak dining hours, students and staff may attend or write letters to the next D219 Board Meeting on October 11 to voice their concerns regarding this issue.