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LR Post

Vending Machine Protest on “Sludgy Sodas”

On Thursday, the 21st of September, petitions got posted on LR’s two vending machines in the Cafeteria by an LR student (who wishes to remain anonymous). Since the beginning of the school year the vending machines have continued to be restocked. However, they are often being restocked with a product that is past its expiration or the expired product in the machine is not being taken out. This student decided to take action and made the petition because drinks in the vending machines were very expired, dating back to July. We were able to interview this student and hear their voice.

Why did you want to make this petition?

Student: “I think that the school shouldn’t be selling expired products. I don’t think that they should be allowed to, and I don’t think that they should be getting away with that.”

When did you put up the petition?

Student: “The petition went up last week on Thursday. By Monday it had been up for three days and was taken down by Tuesday.”

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Student: “Easy. For the student populace, you deserve better than expired drinks that could potentially be making you sick. So I’d like to request that we boycott the vending machine until they actually replace the product. Obviously I can’t tell people what to do, but if you care then don’t buy it. If you value your own health and money, yeah I wouldn’t buy it because it’s expired.”

What is Sludge?

Students have reported seeing a discolored “sludge” at the bottom of Mountain Dews inside the machines.. After looking into potential causes for the “sludge” one source could be that throughout the summer the machines were continuously unplugged and then replugged back in. One wonders what the effects of the changing temperatures could have on the soft drink. The most likely answer to the question is that the “sludge” is a build up of separated fruit juice concentrate. Michigan Live has an article in their Food and Dining section that quotes the senior manager of communications for PepsiCo Beverages Americas, Andrea Foote, that says, “Since Mountain Dew does contain some fruit juice there is occasionally sediment. This is a natural occurrence that happens occasionally — it can usually be rectified by lightly shaking the product to reincorporate the orange juice solids and does not have an impact on product safety or taste” . The date indicates the recommended period during which the beverage is expected to retain its optimal taste and quality. While this “sludge” does look scary, it is most likely harmless to the drinker. However, no one likes to drink a “sludgy” and discolored Mountain dew, harmless or not.

Who’s Running the Show?

Technically the sophomores. In order to get both sides we talked with Mrs. Calhoun, as the sophomore class advisor she is in charge of the goings on with the vending machines. All earnings from the machines go toward the sophomore class in order to help pay for the Junior Prom their following school year. Ms. Calhoun told us that two students have already gone through the vending machines and taken out juices that were past their expiration date. She also said that there were absolutely no expired drinks in the machines. When our reporter showed her this picture (left) featuring a mountain dew with the date July 31 23, she was very surprised. Calhoun then told our reporter that she has a lot on her plate between student groups and her own classes and doesn’t have the time to go down there and check on the machines. She did show us that, according to the USDA “Carbonated soft drinks or sodas are not perishable, and are safe past the date stamped on the container. Eventually flavor and carbonation will decrease. For best quality, consume unopened diet sodas within 3 months after the date expires; regular sodas within 9 months” (FDA and USDA). While the petition was able to gain traction with the students and was able to get many signatures of support for the cause, Mrs. Calhoun says that the “mature thing” would have been to come talk to her about the problem, and begin asking which student started the petition on the machines. This is when our reporter told her that the student we interviewed wishes to remain anonymous and did not sign the petition themselves as it could be seen as a conflict of interest. If anything is to come from this ordeal she hopes that some sophomores could potentially get involved in helping run the machines as a way to make sure things like this don’t happen again. This could provide students compensation via volunteer hours and a better connection to their school community.

A Happy Ending For All

After the primary interview with the sophomore class advisor, we were informed via email that on Thursday the 28th she will be having students go down and go through every drink and dispose of any that are past their expiration date. Again, the hope now is that we can find a Vending Machine Manager and ensure that this kind of event doesn’t have to happen again. If anyone is interested in getting volunteer hours for this job, contact or visit Mrs. Calhoun.

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About the Contributor
Sylvia Brownlow, Student Editor
Sylvia Brownlow is the Ranger Post Student Editor. She has been a part of the Ranger post going on 3 years at Lake Region. She is a senior that has the intent of attending college next year. She enjoys riding horses, playing soccer, science fairs and writing! She writes many stories, from news updates, sports updates, opinion pieces and more. She is hoping to become and Aerospace Engineer after high school.