Food rules put strain on campus groups

DOWNEY - Whether regulations stating that no food may be sold during school hours truly guard the average student's health or merely exist as a nuisance is debated as Downey high school organizations attempt to raise money.The obsession over healthy food being served within our school district began with the increasing obesity rate, inspiring rules and regulations that eliminated many popular food items and, essentially, the opportunity to gain revenue through the sales of these items. Presently, organizations selling edible objects must comply with health standards when creating or storing food; the food itself must meet health regulations, which by definition means all ingredients must be thoroughly researched and approved; and competition with cafeteria sales must be avoided. Out of simple frustration with meeting these regulations, the Downey school district has made it an official school-wide law that food can not be produced and sold by anyone but the "cafeteria ladies." However, there remains, as always, contrasting opinions towards law. "Everything sold here has to go through the state and they decide if it's healthy," says Downey Principal Tom Houts. "I don't agree with some of the stuff they're selling, though. I see how kids are eating today and it's not healthy but then again, some foods sold here aren't healthy. There's no diet sodas but there's Gatorade, which has more calories than diet soda… It doesn't make sense to me." In recent years, Downey's Associated Student Body attempted to make a profit off blameless popcorn and innocent shaved ice. Yet, after a history of accusations of bad ice, sugary syrup, and old butter, even ASB keeps away from selling food during school hours and instead focuses on other ways to bring in revenue. It seems that with every rule lays a loophole and campus groups are encouraged to enhance their creativity for a profit gain. "Let's just stay away from food and sell sweatshirts," says Activities Director Gordon Weisenburger. "We sell snow cones and Juicin' Up, people have tried churros and bake sales-clubs still take advantage of being able to sell outside of school hours and they still sell to teachers during school. Nothing sells more to students than candy, though, and we wish we could sell them but I completely understand where our district is coming from. Kids before fundraising value-we understand and we comply." The frustration at the impossibility of meeting all standards and regulations, including shying away from any competition with food sold in the cafeteria, brings the final slam: a rule that prohibits any selling of food to students from the minute school begins to the very second it ends. Though a negative impact on most school groups, the rule is still respected and enforced-with or without an agreement in opinion.

********** Published: January 15, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 39