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Turning a healthy profit at the school store?

Imagine you’re in charge of the school store. You have two goals:

  1. Turn a profit to pay for school incidentals, such as copier paper
  2. Turn kids onto healthy food

While they aren’t contrary goals, they aren’t necessarily complementary goals either – as a recent article in Lorence Times Daily (Snack Time) points out. The problem is that kids tend to prefer unhealthy snacks. Also there’s a greater margin for profit in unhealthy snacks because healthier options cost more. So what to do?

One of the problems right now is that the answer is different wherever you go.

A recent study by Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported unhealthy snack foods were more prevalent in schools in the South, where obesity rates are the highest in the nation.

The report indicates that about 60 percent of public elementary students in the South during the 2009-10 school year could buy sugary snacks outside of school meals, compared with 24 percent of students in the West and 30 percent in the Midwest.

It turns out that while there are some restrictions on cafeteria options, there are no regulations for food sold elsewhere in the building…

A recent study by Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported unhealthy snack foods were more prevalent in schools in the South, where obesity rates are the highest in the nation.

The report indicates that about 60 percent of public elementary students in the South during the 2009-10 school year could buy sugary snacks outside of school meals, compared with 24 percent of students in the West and 30 percent in the Midwest.

The good news is that there may be changes coming up…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to release proposed nutrition standards for all foods and beverages available outside of school meals.

Yet, while most educators want to see healthier options, there is that other goal – supplement the school budget – and the healthier options aren’t doing that…

Cherokee Elementary Principal Pam Worsham said students enjoy the fruits and vegetables, but her school still relies on proceeds from the school store. In January, the store made $700, which was a slow month, she said.“The store can generate up to $12,000 in a month, and that money goes for expenses like copier fees, paper and supplies that teachers need,” she said. “It could also be used to paint walls. It’s much-needed money.”

It’s an example of when leadership – from the USDA and perhaps the Department of Education would be beneficial because this is a conundrum in schools across the country. There has to be a better solution that would allow for healthy options that invest in our kids future as well as schools’ short-term needs.

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