These are some of the vending machines located in the Robert C. Gillett Student Commons building on campus. Four of many spread within campus buildings. Photo credit: Christina Korotkov

Vending machines at Algonquin College have been left alone since the start of the pandemic.

With students and staff back on campus, the vending machines are being used more so now than in the past year.

The two companies that own and take care of the vending machines are Coca-Cola – for beverages – and Bests Vending – for snacks and beverages or other drink options, such as milk.

These companies are responsible for monitoring, operating, maintaining, and repairing the machines if there are problems.

“If issues arise with vending machines on campus, students can bring it to the attention of Food Services and we are happy to notify the responsible company,” says Mara Lowrey, marketing and communications manager for Campus Services.

One thing the college has control over is what specific snacks or beverages are sold in the vending machines.

Lowrey says what goes in the vending machines is dependent on the sale of specific products.

Over the last year, the number of working machines and volume of products has seen a decrease because of inactivity on campus. However, these numbers are set to rise once “the campus returns to a pre-pandemic population.”

College officials must follow the Broader Public Sector Procurement (BPS) rules and regulations – rules made by the ministry of government and consumer services on the purchase of goods and services using public funds in public sectors when choosing which companies place vending machines at the college.

“Any company that feels that they are qualified and able to attain the described service requirements can submit a bid that is evaluated by the college,” said Lowrey.

Once chosen and the machines have been installed, Coca-Cola and Bests Vending have to monitor the machines regularly.

“They are on campus at least once a week checking on the machines, stocking, rotating product and of course, technology is also helpful with monitoring the machines,” Lowrey added.

Students can suggest changes to the vending machines at any time by reaching out to Food Services through email or by telephone at 613-727-4723 ext. 7615.

“We change the beverage mix based on new releases,” said Lowrey. “We can suggest new snacks to our vendor at any time – for example, masks were added during the pandemic and we added a fresh food option machine in ACCE Building when The Fix was closed.”