Breakfast Vending

Jenice Momber, Foodservice Director, Onekama Consolidated School, Onekama, MI

One new way schools are successfully boosting breakfast counts is by using breakfast vending machines.  That’s what Onekama Public Schools are doing, and Jenice Momber, foodservice director, is confident the investment will pay off in the long run. 

The breakfast vending machine, called Vend-U-Cation, was initially a $12,000 investment. Onekama plans to pay for the machine over a five-year period.  Although vending machine sales started slowly, they picked up steadily over the school year. The machine is very popular with seniors who come and go to school at different times.  

All students at Onekama, regardless of their eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals, can use the breakfast vending machine. Students receive a full reimbursable school meal via the vending machine. To assist students with selecting the proper meal components, the machine prompts them to take items they have not yet selected to make the meal fully reimbursable.  Breakfast items that students receive but don’t care for are put on a sharing table for other students. 

To make record keeping less tedious, students use a PIN number linked to their identity. Use of the students’ PIN numbers helps the school foodservice department track purchases and report sales for reimbursement.  Most frequently purchased vending machine breakfast items include chocolate chip oatmeal bars, hummus, Nutri-Grain bars, whole grain bagels, fruit, yogurt, and TruMoo fat-free chocolate milk.

At Onekama, 165 of 430 students are allowed to use the school breakfast vending machine. The machine is open daily to middle and high school students.  At other times of the day, the vending machine is used to vend healthy snacks and drinks for after-school clubs and sports teams. 

For anyone interested in purchasing a school breakfast vending machine, Momber recommends these steps: 1.) Develop a good working relationship with the vendor of the machine.  Rely on their expertise.  2.) Train staff to correctly stock the machine with reimbursable items. 3.) Get student input about what kinds of breakfast food to put into the machine. 4.) Plug it in and start boosting sales! 

This story is part of a School Breakfast Success Story Compendium by Michigan Team Nutrition. To read more success stories, click here!


Nicholas Drzal, RD, MPH, Michigan Department of Education

Chris Flood, MS; Nutrition Communications Consultant, Healthy Habits Today

Jenice Momber, Foodservice Director, Onekama Consolidated School, Onekama, MI

Photo from USDA Flickr