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The Scarlet & Black

New vending machines placed in HSSC

A+student+purchases+a+snack+from+the+vending+machine+in+the+HSSC.+
Marc Duebener
A student purchases a snack from the vending machine in the HSSC.

From Takis, to edible cookie dough to cottage cheese, the new smart cooler vending machines on campus have elicited questions surrounding food accessibility on campus. Jeanette Moser, director of dining services, wrote in an email to The S&B that the machines were installed over winter break in partnership with Mahaska Vending Services in the atrium of the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) and the basement of the Charles Benson Bear `39 Recreation and Athletic Center.  

Most replaced existing machines. Moser wrote, “The installation of vending machines is a direct response to student feedback that late-night food options were not readily available.” She added, “The addition of Smart Cooler vending machines, placed in these key locations, addresses the need for quick meal options not previously offered by the vending companies on campus.” 

Moser emphasized the collaboration between dining services and Mahaska Vending. She wrote, “Dining Services communicates their desired options to Mahaska, requesting a variety of soft drinks from different companies, local food items, vegetarian snacks and quick meal options.” Moser added, “This addition aims to alleviate the need for students to go downtown during late evening hours if they wanted a meal or snack.” 

Logan Weldon, market sales manager at Mahaska, shared that the company has received “good feedback as they continue to remain open to suggestions.” He said, “What we preach when we make these partnerships is that we’re hands-on. Mahaska is a family-run business. We’re in Iowa, and we don’t even cover all of Iowa yet. We are always here and available. We are going to keep an eye on these machines and give the best service that we can.” 

Weldon continued, saying that college campuses are the ideal location for vendors to test out new products, as younger people tend to use cards and mobile pay options. The quick grab-and-go design of the smart cooler makes students “the perfect consumer.”

What we preach when we make these partnerships is that we’re hands-on. Mahaska is a family-run business. We’re in Iowa, and we don’t even cover all of Iowa yet. We are always here and available. We are going to keep an eye on these machines and give the best service that we can.

— Logan Weldon, market sales manager at Mahaska Vending

Dining services selected Mahaska as their vendor after assessing a variety of companies for their “reliability, sustainability initiatives and cutting-edge technology.” Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Mahaska designates 12 drivers to stock various machines across Iowa. Weldon said that a route driver goes to Grinnell and Newton, stopping by the College on its way. Each smart cooler shelf has scales that evaluate the price of the product based on its weight.  

 The machines in the HSSC and the Bear are Mahaska’s first models, said Weldon. When students swipe or tap to pay, the door unlocks, and whatever item is selected displays on the screen with its corresponding price.  

 Weldon said, “We are keeping an eye on it and testing it out as something new and exciting, and we wanted to test that out on campus.”  

 The effort to maintain high standards of excellence in dining options continues to expand. Moser wrote, “Discussions within the Dining Committee have explored the potential for more accessible machines and options meeting nutritional and local food requirements.” She added,

“While these features aren’t currently offered by vending companies in our area, ongoing conversations aim to introduce such options in the future.”  

 She wrote, “Additional installations are a possibility. We will continue to evaluate how the machines are being used to make decisions regarding whether to add machines or other options.”  

 Though Weldon does not foresee the smart coolers adopting a Pioneer One-card accessible feature, he mentioned he had seen this implemented in a machine before. However, dining services is continuing to look at options for using dining dollars in additional locations on and off campus, according to Moser.  

Additional installations are a possibility. We will continue to evaluate how the machines are being used to make decisions regarding whether to add machines or other options.

— Jeanette Moser, director of dining services

Moser suggests students should contact mealplans@grinnell.edu if they have suggestions about the items available in the machines.

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About the Contributors
Zoe Zappas, Staff Writer
Zoe is a first year intended gender, women’s and sexuality studies and Spanish double major. Originally a Clevelander, she fell down the Ohio to California pipeline and is now labeled a fake midwesterner. She is a lover of sesame bagels, stalking your spotify, playing the dance like an appliance game, and raising her eyebrow at everything.
Marc Duebener, Staff Photographer
Marc Duebener is a first-year chemistry and economics major with a concentration in science, medicine and society. He says he is from Chicago, Illinois but really lives in the suburbs. On campus you can find Marc shooting sporting events and documentaries, studying in Noyce, or hitting the gym.
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