Words: Jonah Drenning
The next time you go to buy a snack or drink at the vending machines after school, you may notice some changes in the selection of snacks. Rather than bags of chips, cookies, and other desserts in the vending machines, there are bags of baked chips, various granola bars, and a lot of empty space. Instead of sodas and soft drinks in the other vending machines, there is only bottled water, conveniently sold right next to drinking fountains.
Despite the efforts at Centennial to make the food choices healthier, the process is not complete. The fries at lunch no longer come with salt, but are still served with every meal. If a student wants unhealthy food, a variety of snacks are still available to choose from at lunch including cookies, pretzels (still covered in salt), and ice cream. The school has removed the unhealthy items from the vending machines, but the exact same kind of food is still served every day during lunch.
Although Centennial has started to change some food options, the school should change the major unhealthy foods at lunch or not change the vending machines at all.
The students who use vending machines most often, athletes, dancers, and actors who stay after school, have some of the healthiest lifestyles in the school already by virtue of their involvement in physical activities. Changing the selection of snacks in the vending machine could be a step in the right direction, but it targets the wrong group of students.
The goal of the administration to improve the health of the food sold around the school is admirable even if the results are less than perfect. The school’s attempt shows that they care about the health of their students and are willing to make changes to make the food healthier. It would be more effective to introduce more healthy alternatives at lunch, when all students eat and many purchase food offered by the school cafeteria and snack bar. One way to improve the health value of the food at lunch is to offer more side dishes that are fruits and vegetables, instead of including French fries with every meal. Adding some treats to the snack bar that are not all full of sugar and empty calories would help to eliminate the problem as well.
The school’s lack of variety and selection in the cafeteria and removal of unhealthy food in the school vending machines gives the majority of the students little change in their diet and affects the groups of students who do not need to worry as much about their health instead of the students eating unhealthy food at lunch and then sitting still for hours afterward during class.
The county has the right attitude in trying to make the food in school healthier, and they can improve their efforts by focusing on the cafeteria next.