2005 Essay Contest:
Healthy Choices in School Vending Machines
2005 Essay Contest Winners
Congratulations to the winners of the 2005 essay contest. The
subject of the contest was “Healthy Choices in School Vending
We received 215 entries from around the state. An independent
panel of judges chose the five top essays.
First Place: $750
Madill Public Schools/12th Grade
Second Place: $500
Holland Hall Upper School/Tulsa/12th Grade
Honorable Mention: $250 each
Perry High School/11th Grade
Inola High School/11th Grade
Peter J. Housewright,
Sapulpa High School/11th Grade
The Kerr Center invites all junior and senior high school students
in the state of Oklahoma to participate in an essay contest. The
subject of the contest is “Healthy Choices in School Vending
Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of obesity in the entire
nation. The health of our citizens and especially our students
are being put in danger by our dietary decisions and sedentary
lifestyles. Students learn their eating habits early, and those
habits often carry on into adulthood where health concerns become
even more prevalent with high incidents of stroke, high blood pressure,
diabetes and heart disease being linked with obesity.
One place to start in changing dietary habits in our youth is
in the nutrition that is available at schools. School cafeterias
are required to follow federal and state guidelines for child nutrition.
But, often students choose snacks and empty calories out of vending
machines instead of eating a balanced meal at school. Currently
schools receive a considerable amount of income from lucrative
contracts with soda and snack vendors. This income is used in many
schools to supplement extracurricular activities as well as to
fill in funding gaps that have occurred in these economically-stressed
times. However, everyone must balance the interest in producing
a revenue stream with the importance of providing healthy and nutritious
choices for student selection in vending machines.
Contestants should weigh the benefits involved in providing students
with healthy alternatives in vending machines against the issues
involved in providing empty calories that may be attractive to
students, but may cause future health problems. Contestants should
consider potential barriers to providing healthy alternatives,
and offer solutions to overcome those barriers.
This essay contest is designed to include young people in a thoughtful
discussion of solutions and current challenges facing nutrition
advocates in our state. The winning essays will focus on the issues
and potential benefits involved in increasing the quality of nutritional
choices available in schools. The arguments and ideas in each essay
should be well developed. Essayists are asked to include their
own ideas and convictions, as well as relevant research which could
include interviews of other students.
The contest will begin on February 11, 2005, and all essays must
be addressed to the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture and
received in the Kerr Center's office by 5:00 p.m., March 30, 2005.
Winners will be announced on May 6, 2005. GRAND PRIZE is a cash
award of $750.00; 1st Runner up is a cash award of $500.00; and
three awards of $250.00 will be given for Honorable Mentions. Winning
essays may be published in the Kerr Center's newsletter, which
is mailed to approximately 7,000 people quarterly or posted on
For further information regarding the 2005 Essay Contest, you
may contact Anita Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling
1. All essays must address the stated target topic.
2. Maximum length of an essay is 1,000 words while minimum length
of an accepted essay is 800 words. Any essays that are submitted
that do not conform to these requirements will result in disqualification
without exception. The Kerr Center reserves the right to edit
the winning essays prior to publication in the Kerr Center’s
3. All children and families of Kerr Center employees are excluded
from the competition.
4. The essays will be evaluated by an independent committee and
will be judged on specific criteria. The Criteria for judging will
be, the development of ideas, overall use of good writing skills,
attention to details and facts, the preciseness of presentation
and the emotional responses evoked by the essays.
5. All essays should be typed and double spaced with a standard
6. All essays should include a title page that contains the participant’s
name, address, school, grade, paper title and word count.
7. Each work must be original, and all quotes from other sources
must be documented either in the body of the paper or in footnotes
or endnotes. You are not limited only to the resources provided,
but remember, plagiarism will result in disqualification from the
8. All essays become the property of the Kerr Center for Sustainable
9. Recommended resources include books, magazines, news media,
school personnel, and personal contact with individuals either
involved with agriculture or an interest therein.
10. Entries should be sent to Anita Poole, Kerr Center for Sustainable
Agriculture, P. O. Box 588, Poteau, OK 74953. Inquiries may be
made to 918-647-9123.
11. Have fun, and remember ideas that you develop today may make
a significant impact on the world of tomorrow.
Hints for Writing a Winning Essay
Persuasive writing is a style in which the writer is trying to
convince the reader to agree about an issue that has more than
one side. To write in the persuasive style, a writer must:
- acknowledge there are two sides to every controversial issue;
- list an arrange arguments in a logical manner; and
- refute the arguments of the opposing side.
Persuasive writing uses different techniques such as analogies,
examples, definitions, compare/contrast, cause/effect and classification.
If you have any questions about any of these techniques, please
feel free to speak to your English teacher or other writing professionals.
Remember to write a balanced paper, organization is key. One way
to organize your thoughts is to first develop an outline. Papers
that are persuasive and well organized have a better chance at
winning this contest.
“Healthy Choices in School Vending Machines”
2005 Essay Contest
The following list of potential resources is not intended to be
exhaustive or exclusive. Essay contest participants are encouraged
to do further research to support the arguments presented in their
papers. The resources list provided was developed in part by executing
a search on the Internet for “school vending machines.”
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.
Researchers Find Farm-to-School Programs Shift Students’
Colleges Buying Food From Local Farmers.”
Soft Drink Consumption Grew 135% since 1977, Boosting Obesity”
by David Williamson.
Machines in Schools.”
Back to Top