New U.S.D.A. laws change food choices at student store

Sydney Blankenship and Catherine Mann

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Pro: new products improve student eating habits

By: Sydney Blankenship, Reporter

Emerald Ridge’s student store, the Jungle, has changed a lot since the Smart Snacks In School regulations were passed into law by the USDA. Whole wheat, fruits and veggies are a must, while sugars, fats, calories and sodium are under several limitations. Many students protested the changes, but others still think things might not be as bad as they seem.

“It definitely presented us with the opportunity to research new products and find a way to still meet the needs of students and what they want for lunch and things like that, but in a healthy way,” senior Jordan Koch, a member of the Jungle team, said. “For example, we sold bagels last year. We still sell bagels this year, they’re just different types.”

Even with the regulations, the student store is going strong. The team has kept a positive attitude, and done their best with the situation. New foods and drinks have been brought to the store, and the entire stock has been almost completely redone. A change this extreme has caused some concern for the business, but senior Alec Meyers and another member of the team, said that is simply not the case.

“Having a set of healthier options has brought in another set of target markers and another set of [demographics] into the store.” Meyers said.

According to the CDC, about 17 percent of students were obese during the 2011-2012 school year. In 2013, that number almost doubled. According to the Michigan Department of Education, a third of students (about 33 percent) are obese right now. We don’t need more junk food in our schools to make those numbers higher. While the school has no right to tell you what to eat at home or at school, they have every right to decide what role they play in the fight against obesity and premature death.

“The long term health effects of obesity in children include Type II Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, and an increase for cancer including cervical, kidney, pancreas, colon, breast, gall bladder and prostate cancer,” Ismael Cabrera, MD said on his official website.

Prices have stayed the same with the smoothie window, even while the content of the smoothies has gone up in quality. The other healthy choices in the store are priced similarly. Many choices in the store, such as their new oatmeal Pop Tarts, are well portioned, healthy choices for breakfasts or snacks. Better yet, the prices are low. Compared to last year’s calorie filled, over-priced, unhealthy items, this is a great change. Instead of going to Starbucks for a four dollar or more smoothie, you can go to the student store (which is also closer) and get a smoothie that has twice the taste for half the price.

Compared to last year’s calorie filled, over-priced, unhealthy items, this is a great change.”

While the store no longer stocks the sweet treats many know and love, the healthier choices are a step in the right direction. By keeping junk out of our snack lines and student stores, the school is taking active precautions against obesity, and promoting healthy lifestyles. With the rapid sale of apparel during the homecoming game victory, the impact on sales has been minimal and the changes have provided a learning opportunity for the student store.

“We’re kind of like this new store,” Meyers said. “Jungle 2.0.”


Con: alternatives may not be as healthy as one thinks

By: Catherine Mann, News/Copy Editor

The student store is a place that ER students used to be able to buy drinks, snacks, and whatever general foodstuffs they desired. Now, because of the Smart Snacks In School Standards, all food and drink must have a calorie limit of between 250 and 350, be limited in fat, sodium and sugar, and have specific rules that must be followed. No more Cup O’ Noodles. No more caramel frappes. No more muffins. Just “healthy” snack foods – and more than one unhappy student.

No more Cup O’ Noodles. No more caramel frappes. No more muffins. Just “healthy” snack foods – and more than one unhappy student.”

According to the regulations, any food sold must be a whole grain product, have a fruit/vegetable protein/dairy product as the first ingredient, and/or contain 10 percent of the daily value of one of the nutrients of public health concern (potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D); preferably all of the above. This is all fine and dandy, until you realize that the foods that are sold are bad. The school lunches that a majority of students really dislike have gotten at least a little better, the snack lines sell healthier – but not necessarily better for you – alternatives, and the student store has a new line of products.

Most of the products in the store match the regulations, many of the products are still processed foods. classifes processed foods in five categories: minimally processed foods pre-prepped for convenience (bagged spinach, cut vegetables, and roasted nuts), foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness (canned beans, tomatoes, frozen fruits and vegetables and canned tuna), foods with ingredients (sweetners, spices, oils, dyes, etc.) added for flavor or texture (like jarred pasta sauce, salad dressings, yougurt and cake mixes), heavily processed ready-to-eat foods (crackers, granola and deli meat), and the foods most heavily processed are frozen/pre-made meals.
There are definitely some positives to eating processed foods – quick and dirty, ready to eat ASAP – but the negatives are more alarming. There is a loss of nutrients, absorption of added vitamins and minerals is more difficult, there is often added salt, there are often added saturated fats and the quality is lower than natural foods. In essence, though the calories may be less and the packaging claims the food is high in nutrients those nutrients are more than likely synthetic and difficult for a body to absorb.

The store is working on moving to natural foods like fruits and vegetables, the bagels and smoothies actually taste better and more natural than last year, and the store now caters to a new and broader demographic of students. But really, these new regulations are terrible.
Viking Vanguard, the Puyallup High School newspaper, wrote; “Our Student Store profits are way down. We are averaging maybe 5 to 20 dollars per lunch.”

This is bad. Prices are down, which means income is down, and these regulations may only make students bring their own unhealthy food from home. We can’t control what they bring to school; how can we control what they eat at school without causing an uproar?

Now to focus on a single group – athletes. Teenage competitive swimmers sometimes burn up to 5000 calories in one practice session. The calorie limit (250 for snacks, 350 for entrees) is not nearly enough for a swimmer or other athletes. Those students would need to ingest approximately 14 of our current school lunches, or student store snacks. School lunches are approximately three dollars and sixty cents each. To spend that much on enough food for an athlete’s practice can be upwards to fifty dollars and forty cents.

The store is an asset to the student body; ran by students, for students. It should cater to their whims within some frame of rules. But Smart Snacks In School has gained so much hate from so many students, changing these few things is more hurtful than helpful.

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