OGDEN — Elementary students at New Bridge School in Ogden School District are getting a different kind of treat out of the vending machine this year.

The school now has a special vending machine that dispenses books in exchange for golden tokens. Students earn tokens by reaching their reading goals.

The book vending machine will be placed at the entrance of the school, said the school’s principal, Janice Bukey.

“We want it to be seen every day when those students walk in,” Bukey said, “because we want to send that message that literacy is the most important thing that we do here at New Bridge.”

Thursday afternoon at a school-wide assembly, Bukey called up two third grade students to unveil the machine, which was draped in navy blue cloth.

The art on both sides of the machine was custom-designed for the school, with the school’s mascot, a knight, riding a horse while raising a book into the air.

“Instead of a sword, he’s got a book,” Bukey said. “Literacy ... gives you power. It gives you strength for lots of things in life.”

The machine looks just like a regular vending machine — in fact, it’s made by a vending machine company based in Buffalo, New York, called Global Vending Machines, that makes new and used machines that dispense snacks and beverages.

The company claims to be the only company that offers book vending machines. On its website, the product is described as part of the company’s social responsibility to help increase the literacy of all students.

New Bridge is the second school in the state that the company has sold a machine to, Bukey said.

At the cost of $4,800 without books, the machine was not cheap.

Bukey was able to pay for it in part with the school’s Title I funds. Title I is a federal program that provides extra funds to schools where students from low-income households make up at least 40% of the student body.

Title I money goes toward “supplemental educational services and resources to meet the needs of economically and educationally disadvantaged students,” according the Utah State Board of Education’s website.

Bukey was able to use Title I funds for the machine because it is part of the literacy goals in the school’s student success plan, she said.

“The area that we’re in, a lot of our students don’t have access to books like this, Bukey said. “One of my goals is just to make sure that every student gets at least one book this year, but hopefully multiple books, so they can start building their own little library at home, and they can pass them on to their siblings.”

The books were paid for with a garage sale over the summer, and some were donated by the book company Scholastic.

The school will rely on fundraisers and donations moving forward, Bukey said.

Community members who wish to contribute to the effort can make donations on the Ogden School Foundation’s website or drop donated books by the school.

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