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Monday, March 27, 2023

Soda prices increase in campus vending machines

UF students may think twice this year before buying soda from campus vending machines.

Around UF's campus, the price of carbonated beverages has risen in vending machines. As of Aug. 6, the price of 12-ounce cans of carbonated drinks increased from 60 cents to 75 cents, and the price of 20-ounce bottles of carbonated drinks increased from ,1 to ,1.25.

Prices for noncarbonated beverages sold in the machines, such as water, Gatorade, fruit juices, energy drinks and Starbucks products, did not change.

Jerry Meriwether, assistant director of UF Business Services Division, said in an e-mail that prices have been raised due to higher transportation and delivery costs, as well as costs associated with product production.

Meriwether said there are 443 vending machines on UF's central campus, and about 800,000 beverages are sold from the machines annually.

Mandi Hancock, a fourth-year family, youth and community sciences major, stops at the vending machines roughly three times a week and drinks about two sodas a day.

"If I'm going to class, I usually buy a carbonated drink to wake me up a bit from the caffeine," Hancock said.

The underlying goal of the price increase was to offset higher costs associated with product availability, Meriwether said.

One objective is to encourage people who stop by a campus vending machine to make the healthier choice, promoting Healthy Gators 2010.

Healthy Gators 2010 is a program aimed at creating a healthier campus and is comprised of students, faculty and staff from about 40 departments and organizations at UF.

Meriwether said the program is associated with a campuswide approach to sustainability, and it covers many aspects of life such as promoting a healthier self.

Meriwether said she doesn't know if the new prices have spurred a decrease in the number of carbonated beverages sold.

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A year from now, the Business Services Division will examine how choices were made since there has not been enough time to establish a trend yet.

"If it encourages them to make a different choice based on the fact that the price is higher and makes them consider why, then it is working," Meriwether said. "Only time will tell. We hope that it tells us that they have begun to make a better choice for themselves."

Hancock said prices haven't affected her choices.

"I noticed that the price went up. That didn't keep me from buying my Diet Dr Pepper," Hancock said.

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