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Smart Snacking at Pingry
adawson

Hungry? Snack-seeking students on the Basking Ridge Campus now have a new option at their disposal: a vending machine, conveniently located in the music hallway around the corner from the Engel Dining Room. Make no mistake, this is no ordinary, pop-tarts-and-Cheez-It-filled vending machine. Supplied by New Jersey-based Cambridge Healthy Vending, as its name suggests, the company bills itself as a source of "delicious, healthy snacks, small meals, and beverages on the go." For busy Pingry students, many of whom remain on campus for several hours after the school day has ended, healthy snacks and small meals are necessary fuel.

"Some kids are on campus until close to 8:00 p.m., playing sports or at drama rehearsal," explains Mrs. Chilmonik, manager of the school store, The Bear Pause. "We sell a variety of snacks for kids, but they have been asking for more meal-like options; they don't always want an energy bar."

At the start of the school year, and in response to parent and student requests, Sage Dining Services introduced healthier breakfast options, and began putting cheese sticks and fruit in the dining hall as afternoon snacks for both Upper and Middle Schoolers. When Mrs. Chilmonik learned about Cambridge Healthy Vending, she viewed it as another option for hungry kids, one that offers more substantial, largely organic meals-on-the-go, available anytime (The Bear Pause closes at 4 p.m.).

A sampling of current offerings includes Annie's Mac and Cheese, Bumble Bee Lemon Tuna with Crackers, McDougall's Vegan Ramen Soup, Thai Kitchen Rice Noodle Soup Bowl, an array of beef jerky, GoGo SqueeZ applesauce pouches, Skinny Pop popcorn, Gatorade Prime Energy Chews, Protein Cake Bites, Gatorade Protein Shake, and Bai Sparkling Antioxidant Infusion. (Kitchen access is always available to students for the small meals that require hot water to be added, like the mac and cheese and ramen cups.)

The machine accepts multiple forms of payment, from Apple Pay and Google Wallet to credit cards and cash. What's more, three different "meal" options are available, which combine a small meal with a drink at a discounted price. Oh, and every fifteenth "vend" is free!

By all accounts, Pingry's new vending machine is a hit with its customers. It debuted on April 3, following a long holiday weekend and a snow day, leaving Mrs. Chilmonik with no time to put up signs or directionals. No matter. She found students clamoring around it, eager to purchase their organic DelishFish and pita chips. By the end of the first day, it had to be refilled. (Incidentally, testament to its sophistication, the machine automatically notifies Cambridge Vending when it's running low on certain items, and what the bestselling items are.)

Referring to the popular Gary Poppins Whole Grain Small Batch Caramel Sea Salt Popcorn, Mrs. Chilmonik, who grew up on an organic farm in rural New Jersey, confesses, "I tasted them—they were delicious. And those organic doritos are to die for. Those will be calling my name!"

Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, adawson@pingry.org