New vending machine to open in the Upper School for Girls


photo courtesy of Julia Henning

The new vending machine will be able to take payment straight from an app on your phone.

Parker Briggs, Reporter

Students in the Upper School for Girls will soon have a new source of snacks in their student lounge. The USG business club, led by Raven Chen and Jennifer Wang, has nearly completed its three year long project of installing a vending machine to supply snacks to the girls’ school. 

The club, founded by Chen and Wang for the purpose of the project, is finally ready to implement the machine, after having experienced a number of setbacks and technical difficulties that resulted in delays. First, after receiving the machine, the girls found the main power cord did not match the unit they had purchased. They asked the company for a replacement, which they received, but it was again the wrong cord. After the third shipment, the girls had all the necessary parts and were able to program the machine. They intended to open it for business on March 16, but they were delayed again, this time by the school’s closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assortment of snacks with which the club will stock the machine will be based on observations of consumption trends from the Gator Alley bookstore and availability online. Additionally, the club intends to send a survey to the student body once or twice a month in order to see what products are the most popular and to solicit suggestions. 

Prices for goods will be comparable to those in the bookstore. “We do recognize that people may perceive the products in the bookstore to be cheaper because there are no price labels on them,” said Wang, “but we want to let the public know that what we offer is either the same price or less expensive than in the bookstore.”

After obtaining $1,000 from passion project funds and $250 from selling Christmas candy grams to fund the purchase of the machine, the business club approached Head of Schools Christian Sullivan with a business proposition, asking for a loan. While the club initially requested only $1,000 from the school to fund the purchase, Mr. Sullivan, who was very supportive of the project, granted an interest-free loan of $2,500 to ensure it would not be undercapitalized. After the first month of operation, the girls are to provide the school administration with a table illustrating the timeline of when they will repay the loan. 

There are currently ten other members in the business club, divided into teams to manage the finance, marketing and operation of the machine. Due to the school closure, Chen and Wang, who are both seniors, may not get to see the machine in operation. Wang said she and Chen have already chosen their successors. “We are learning to operate the machine with them, and after we leave, we hope they can take the lead,” Wang said.

One condition of the loan Mr. Sullivan granted was that after the USG’s vending machine is implemented and running successfully, the girls’ business club will collaborate with the boys’ to install a machine in the Upper School for Boys building. The girls will pass on their business experience and assist with the programming of the machine. “That way I hope the boys can avoid some of the failures we’ve faced,” Wang said.