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UNK leaning toward healthier options in campus vending machines

UNK is switching it up a bit adding healthier options. (NTV News)

If you're used to getting your chips or candy bars at the vending machines, things may change at University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK).

UNK is switching it up a bit adding healthier options.

UNK graduate student Ali Malmkar is researching ways to make their campus vending machines more nutritious. This is also a part of her thesis.

"The research is consisting of evaluating all vending machines across campus so that's including all snack vending machines and all beverage vending machines,” Malmkar said.

Two Rivers Public Health Department approached UNK to try to bring them to a healthier category.

"And then we thought what would be a great place to partner obviously UNK. And it's a great young population to work with,” said Two Rivers Public Health wellness coordinator Heather Easton.

UNK plans to incorporate red, yellow and green options. The different options mean if it’s red, those are the foods you should avoid. If it’s yellow, it is sometimes fine to eat and green is the healthiest option for you.

"Thirty percent or more of the vending machines have yellow or green options and there's certain requirements to get them to that level,” said UNK Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Sports Science Bryce Abbey.

While Ali Malmkar looks at and critiques the vending machines, she said the campus needs to better its goals and pick better options.

"Definitely below the 30 percent, the goal that we are trying to get to. For us, it makes it more of an initiative get to that bronze level,” Malmkar said.

Some students at UNK feel that this is a good idea. Sam Sutherland, a UNK student, said that not a lot of students buy something from the vending machine to purchase a healthy snack.

"It kinda seems like if you're going to a vending machine, you probably aren't too concerned about what the snack is, but having options is good,” Sutherland said.

Alex Schmidt, another UNK student, said the campus should change their options.

"I wish there was a lot of healthier options since I snack during the day,” Schmidt said.

Surveys went out to students, faculty members and staff asking them what type of healthy options they would like.

Healthier options are expected in campus vending machines by next fall.

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