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***Please note, hot beverage machines have been removed from Farish Hall & Engineering Building 2 since this post was originally published.*** - 2/20/18

By The Auxiliary Services Team

Sometimes, you just need that little boost of energy to get you through the afternoon.

When that craving hits, many of us grab a dollar and some change and stroll on over to the nearest vending machine. We do it all the time and don’t even give a second thought about who is in charge of stocking those mechanical marvels with our favorite snack items.

Snack vending machine totalsSpread throughout the many buildings that dot the UH campus are 53 of these snack vending machines. All are owned by Canteen Vending Services, which through its parent company Compass Group USA, has the contract to provide vending services for UH. That contract also extends to the other component universities within the UH System’s umbrella.

Canteen’s contract does not include the 114 cold beverage vending machines that dispense bottles of soda, water and energy drinks. Those machines are owned and stocked by Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages.

Besides the candy machines on campus, Canteen also maintains and stocks three hot beverage/coffee dispensing machines (which are located in the MD Anderson Library, Farish Hall and Engineering Building 2).

Canteen has also recently installed a healthy snack vending machine in the library. These EnrG machines provide products that are healthy and organic.

What Canteen IncludesCanteen has been the vending machine supplier for UH for some time now. The company’s previous five-year contract with UH ended in September of last year. A request for proposals was put out prior to that, and Canteen once again was awarded the contract. This new one is for three years, with two one-year options that could extend it to a total of five years.

As part of the agreement, the University receives a minimum guaranteed commission from the vending machine sales each year. If the sales exceed that amount, UH receives a percentage of that additional revenue.

Canteen also provides the University with a certain amount of in-kind products (donation of snack products to be used at campus events and activities). They also make scholarship contributions that are divided among the main campus, UH-Clear Lake and UH-Downtown. The company also allocates a certain amount of funding to hire a UH student as an intern.

The contract goes into detail regarding what is expected of Canteen. That includes providing a variety of cashless payment options on its vending machines. The contract also spells out a list of national brands that the machines should carry. The agreement requires Canteen to establish regular marketing and campus outreach programs at the various UH System campuses. It specifies a service schedule for the machines and service requirements to help prevent interruption of service resulting from empty machines or empty change dispensers. Approved price increases can only be implemented prior to the start of the fall semester.

Over the course of the school year, the number of snack vending machines on campus will fluctuate as new ones are brought in, old ones taken out. Departments and colleges are always welcome to request a machine be added to serve a certain building or location. Information on how to make such a request can be found here.

As with most things, vending machines are not always perfect. There are times when you give it your hard-earned money, and it decides not to give you anything in return. When that happens, the Auxiliary Services Department is more than happy to make things right. Each machine has a sticker with instructions on how to contact us and get your refund. Our vending refund policy is also posted online on our Vending Services website.


posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2017