You don’t have to pay to get a treat from the new vending machine at Tooele Junior High School — just don’t expect your treat to be edible.
Moving crews installed the machine, which vends jokes and health education rather than food, at the junior high on Monday morning amid a crowd of interested students, said Amy Bate, a public health educator for the Tooele County Health Department.
The fake vending machine is provided by Intermountain Healthcare’s LiVe Well campaign, which is intended to educate children and families about physical activity and healthy food choices.
Though the machines look like real, full-size snack vending machines, each has been modified and fit with speakers and fake snacks. Select an item to “purchase,” and the machine may crack a joke — just think what those onion rings will do to your breath! — or suggest a healthier alternative, such as buying a piece of fruit at the store.
The installation was long in coming, Bate said. The health department had originally coordinated with Intermountain LiVe to have the machine visit three local schools, Tooele Junior, Grantsville Junior and Clarke Johnsen, last spring. However, the machine was heavier than expected, and the need to hire professional movers delayed the installation.
Because of the cost of moving the vending machine, Bate said it will remain in place at Tooele Junior High for three to four weeks — instead of rotating through the three major junior highs — before moving to another location on the Wasatch Front.
There is a virtual machine available on Intermountain’s website at intermountainhealthcare.org/live-well.