New health standards puts student store on a diet

Christian Lewis, Editor In Chief

For the last couple years, the United States Department Of Agriculture(USDA) has been enforcing several changes to the types of foods that are allowed in schools in hopes to improve the overall health of today’s youth, as well as set a precedent for healthy living in the future.

In previous years the school was not majorly affected by what the USDA was enforcing. However, this year under the “Smart Snacks in School” Rule, which came into effect on July 1, 2014, most of the food and beverages sold to students on campus in vending machines, student stores and fundraising have been banned.

Some of these new rules include setting nutrient limits on foods for the number of calories, amount of sugar, amount of sodium, and the percent fat in all snacks and entrees sold in schools. As well as this, any competitive food sold must be fruits, vegetables, dairy products, protein-rich food, whole grain rich food, or a combo food that has at least ¼ cup fruits or vegetables.

This sudden change in what the school is allowed to sell has raised questions from many students as well as many faculty. The first question being, “Are the changes towards whole grain foods that much better than what was previously being sold?”

Sid Taylor from Child Nutrition Services said, “Actually yes, there are many more vitamins and minerals in the whole grain now being served, as well as a much more complete source of protein.”

Now when students go to buy lunch, in order for them to buy, they must choose at least 3 of the 5 types of foods described by the USDA. Taylor explained that the problem with this, is that many students will then take things such as broccoli because it covers the vegetable food group, yet as soon as they get outside the lunch line they just throw it away. Why then, are they making students buy food that they are ultimately just going to throw away in the end?

Another problem that the school has experienced with this initiative, is that it is much harder for the student store to raise money for the Distributive Education Club of America(DECA) that runs the store.

“The biggest problem we are experiencing is finding food that taste good that students are going to want to buy. We had to get rid of the smoothie machine and some of the snacks we sold, but now we are selling parfait with low fat frozen yogurt, baked chips and whole grain snacks.” John Selfors, marketing teacher and DECA advisor, said. “We want to educate and be role models for the students, but with these new rules it is much harder to raise the money we need.”

In the past, the majority of the income from the student store came from food sales, which constituted about 80 percent of their sales, compared to the 20 percent that apparel held. In order to combat these much more restrictive food rules, the store has expanded their apparel choices to include school spirit gear, with the addition of foam fingers and pom-poms.

With this new spirit gear in the store they are hoping to increase their apparel sales to total 50 percent of all sales to make up for the predicted drop in food sales due to the new rules. “We are trying to focus more on apparel sales,” Selfors said. “We are reaching out to team up with other clubs to make custom apparel.”

Along with these problems, the changes that were made have upset some students because they are no longer able to buy many of the foods that the stores sold during the day.

Despite much of the discontent by students and staff alike, the consequences for not following these new rules can be detrimental to schools with fines that can be upwards of $20,000, which is more than enough of an incentive to continue enforcing such guidelines.