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4 Strange Vending Machines in the Public Sector

The weird and sometimes controversial items dispensed on public premises.

In middle school, vending machines oftentimes were the only source for goodies during a long school today. Who wouldn’t want something tasty after a vicious round of dodgeball?

Today, though, vending machines not only provide delicious treats like candy and soda, they are spitting out office supplies, electronics and medicine. But we might have seen nothing yet in the U.S. In Japan, for example, it’s difficult to walk a block without running into vending machines, as they dispense a host of consumer goods such as beer, cigarettes and more recently, Wi-Fi access.

Public-sector entities in America, though, seem to be turning up the wackiness. As the following list shows, unorthodox items can bring controversy.

1. Shippensburg University’s Health Items Vending Machine

Students at Shippensburg University who are in need of health-related items such as condoms and pregnancy tests can head to their university’s health center where a vending machine supplies those items. The public university in Pennsylvania stirred controversy recently after announcing the vending machine would now offer Plan B, also known as the “morning-after pill.” The university’s vice president for student affairs, Roger L. Serr, in an official statement, said because the vending machine is located within the campus’s health center, the medication is only accessible by students who attend the university.

“There is one machine only and the medication is not available anywhere else on campus,” Serr said in the statement. “In addition, no one can walk in off the street and go into the health center.”

As of Thursday, Feb. 9, the university stated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be re-evaluating the university’s decision to have Plan B available in the vending machine.

Read more about what students can purchase from university’s vending machine.

2. Pennsylvania’s Wine Vending Machine

Love wine but can’t travel to wine country to get it? In 2010, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board — the only entity legally allowed to sell alcohol in the state — began installing several wine vending machines in supermarkets across the state.

Read the full story here.

3. Sacramento Calif.’s Industrial Equipment Vending Machine

Employees of some Sacramento, Calif., government agencies can obtain industrial equipment such as duct tape and rubber gloves by waving an ID card on a vending machine’s optical reader. One is located at the Traffic Signs and Markings Division within the Sacramento Department of Transportation.

Read the full story and see the video here.

4. University of Florida’s School Supplies Vending Machine

Students at the University of Florida who spend countless hours studying for finals in the university’s humanities and social sciences library can put their minds at ease if they run out of erasers. The facility known as Library West houses a vending machine that sells school supplies like pens, note cards and blue books, according to local media.

Does your government entity use vending machines? Share about yours here in the comments section.