Profits, Commercial Food Supplier Involvement, and School Vending Machine Snack Food Availability

The Issue:

Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, new federal standards for competitive foods will be implemented in U.S. public schools. These new standards address the availability of low-nutrient, energy-dense (LNED) foods. This study examines the associations between commercial supplier involvement and food vending practices and availability.

Key Findings

  • Food vending was available in 32 percent of middle and 68 percent of high schools.

  • Supplier "say" was associated with a higher likelihood of LNED foods.

  • School profits were associated with increased LNED food availability, while district profits were associated with decreased LNED food availability.


Increased LNED availability was associated with school profit, as well as schools receiving commercial incentives and receipts. These findings support increasing district involvement with school vending policies and practices and limiting supplier "say" in food vending offerings.

About the Study:

Using six years of data (2007-2012) and nationally-representative Youth, Education, and Society (YES) study, this current study included 814 middle schools and 801 high schools. Mailed questionnaires were completed by school principals and food service personnel with a 72-percent average response rate without replacement.