Lunchtime Vending Machine Laws

Department of Education officials are regulating when and where kids can use a vending machine, hoping they'll make healthier selections.

When it comes to lunch in high school the choices are endless, but there is one thing you won't find on the menu: carbonated drinks. State regulations say carbonated beverages may not be sold where breakfast or lunch is being served or eaten, but that doesn't mean the machine outside is out of the question.

"I use the coke machine every other day. Last year I used the cola machine every day. I lived off of Mountain Dew," Jessica Christian says.

That's a choice many students make. Studies show kids drink twice as much soda as they do milk, but when to drop that change in the machine for a pop isn't a decision they can make.

State regulations say middle school students can only use vending machines one hour after the last lunch period ends and most high school machines have timers to turn them on and off, but students say they should have the right to choose.

School administrators hope by limiting the sale of carbonated drinks and foods of little nutritional value, kids will opt for the healthier alternative.

Non-carbonated beverages like 100 percent pure fruit juice can be sold all day long. For Georgia the standards vary. Thomasville city school officials say the use of vending machines during the school day is prohibited.