Manna from heaven

The new vending machine for hungry journalists at the Vatican.VATICAN CITY — The Vatican Press Office has been making some notable upgrades recently: high-def plasma televisions in the newsroom, a big digital wall clock, a coffee machine, and now a vending machine (right) that dispenses sugary sweets and fizzy drinks — all at LOW LOW prices.

Many Vatican journalists spend a large chunk of their day at the press hall: it’s usually open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is where press releases for Vatican-related events, embargoed speeches, and other coveted Vatican “bollettino” or bulletin items are distributed to accredited journalists.

The first bulletin is usually issued at 12 noon on the dot, and others trickle out throughout the rest of the day. Typically no one wants to stray too far from the press hall so as not to miss what may be a news-breaking bulletin. The head of the press office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, or his assistant, Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, also sometimes come by to chat with journalists or divulge some juicy tidbit we should be on the lookout for.

Because no one wants to miss what may be important news coming out, most people choose to skip lunch and type away with a rumbling tummy. 

But now that’s changed! Thanks to the new vending machine, we now can now get a sugar, starch, caffeine, or chocolate fix anytime. It dispenses cakes, croissants, chocolate or granola bars, gum, as well as bottled ice teas, fruit juice, mineral water, Fanta, Coca-Cola, and the Italian classic, “Chinotto.”  The snack machine joins another fairly recent addition of a hot beverages machine that pours out 15 varieties of coffee and other hot drinks.

The added bonus is the cost. The snacks and drinks come at cut-rate prices. A coffee costs just 25 cents while it would normally set you back one whole euro ($1.55) at a nearby coffee shop. A can of Coke is a real steal: just 65 cents versus 3 euro ($4.15) from an outdoor food cart or bar.

Now if only we could find a place that offers free pizza delivery, those of us on Vatican duty would never have to leave!

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