March 20, 2008 - 3:27PM
VICTORVILLE — With candy sales banned on school campuses, sugar pushers are the latest trend at local schools. Backpacks are filled with Snickers and Twinkees for all sweet tooths willing to pay the price.
“It’s created a little underground economy, with businessmen selling everything from a pack of skittles to an energy drink,” said Jim Nason, principal at Hook Junior High School in Victorville.
This has become a lucrative business, Nason said, and those kids are walking around campus with upwards of $40 in their pockets and disrupting class to make a sale.
Schools have been individually banning junk-food sales for years, and enforcement was increased in 2005 when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger passed legislation to combat childhood obesity, according to the office of the governor.
Since then, schools have slowly adjusted by offering more healthy alternatives, such as baked chips and granola bars.
But Nason said that he sees just as much candy and soda as ever, because students still bring it from home — for lunch, and to turn a profit.
“I think it’s original purpose was pretty good, but it doesn’t seem to be making that big of a difference,” said teacher Rolayne Allen of the junk-food ban.
Teachers are instructed to confiscate candy when kids have it in class, Nason said, and the punishment for making sales can be detention.
But confiscating candy all the time can be challenging, Allen said, especially around the holidays when students bring more of it to school.
Daryl Bell, principal at Apple Valley Middle School, said that he also sees an increase in candy around the holidays, but that for the most part, students steer clear of sodas and buy juice and water from the vending machines.
A few candy sellers are caught each year there, Bell said, but he does not see it as a problem on campus.
Since Hook moved away from junk food years ago, Nason said he has not seen a change in student health.
“I think they get a good nutritional lunch here, but looking at our kids and looking at physical education scores, I don’t see how it’s been a highly effective program,” Nason said.
One way around the problem is the school’s lunch accounts, Nason said. Parents can monitor what their kids are eating by putting money on their lunch cards to buy school meals instead of handing them cash.
But as long as kids can get candy, from the store and at home, they will continue to bring it to school, Nason said.
Rachel Byrd can be reached at 951-6232, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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