Candy bars, sugary soda, and fried chips.
These are the snacks and beverages some students wish were in the vending machines around school. Instead of the dry health bars, bitter diet soda and tasteless baked chips that occupy them now.
Teachers do not have to deal with the same predicament. Gone are the “healthy” options, and enter the junk food in the teacher lounge vending machines. This has led to some students feeling like they are not being treated equally.
“It’s unfair we have to pay more money than teachers and teachers still get better food,” senior Jaelyn Phillips said.
Faculty only have to play 75 cents per soda while students have to pay double that for a diet pop.
Assistant Principal Stacy Longacre elaborated on how faculty could have the new machines while not changing the students options.
“Part of the reason for the change is teachers are not under the same (rules) as the lunch program, which has strict rules,” Longacre explained.
Students are bound by the Healthy Hunger-Free Act, which went into effect in 2010, requiring schools who receive federal food subsidies to serve healthy alternatives. This, combined with the Smart Snacks in Schools program, mandates that all food sold during the school day must meet stringent nutritional standards.
Some of these standards require snacks to have 200 calories or less, 200 mg sodium or less, and no trans fat.
These constraints are a problem. For example, students are only offered diet soda, since schools are restricted to only caffeinated drinks with less than 5 calories per 8 fluid ounces or 10 or less calories per 20 fluid ounces. However, diet soda could actually be worse for people.
While Longacre said she is not an expert, she has seen and read data that concurs with the idea diet pop is just as bad and unhealthy for people as regular.
“I find it kind of odd we would allow diet drinks, but not regular drinks because artificial additives added to anything are not healthy for us,” Longacre said. “It seems like if we are going to ban regular pop, we should also ban diet pop, and it should all be banned.”
Researchers in a 2008 UC San Diego study, published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health scanned the brains of volunteers who drank water sweetened with sugar as well as water sweetened with sucralose, a zero-calorie artificial sweetener. The resulting MRI scans shed some light on the effects of artificial sweeteners.
The brain can distinguish caloric from the non-caloric sweetener, although the conscious mind could not. This could raise questions of the efficiency artificial sweeteners have in their ability to substitute sugar intake.
In other words, artificial sugars may have the inverse effect than intended. It could lead to more people to eating additional foods with real sugar, which generally have more calories.
With the arrival of the new vending machine products, not all teachers believe it is a positive. Especially with the additional hassle of teachers having issues with students accessing their vending machines, math teacher Amy Delehant, is concerned.
“We have had pop and vending machines that were exceptions to the student rules and they were taken away, so I question why they are back,” Delehant said. “I would say most teachers were glad to see them go.”
To see all the snack restrictions from the Smart Snacks In School Program check out https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/allfoods_flyer.pdf