Underground snack food sales flourish

LUSD prohibits sales; students say money helps pay for sports, extracurriculars

Ryan Flores, Staff Writer

Most students have one thing on their minds during a long day at school: food. While some students dream about food, others capitalize on that dream by offering food for sale. These students can be seen around school carrying extra bags that resemble sports equipment carriers, while in reality, these bags contain a gold mine of chips, candy, and delicacies that have enabled an underground snack empire to flourish — leading some students to claim they make more than $100 per week.

Lodi Unified School District Policy 3554 specifically prohibits sales of food or other items unless a student-run organization receives authorization. In addition, Federal Code 7 Section 210.11 states that food sold on campus must meet all four general nutrition standards: be a grain product that contains 50 percent or more whole grains by weight or have the first ingredient a whole grain, have one of the non-grain major food groups (fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein foods) as the first ingredient, be a combination food that contains one-fourth cup fruit and/or vegetable and if water is the first ingredient, the second ingredient must be one of the food items previously stated.

Most student-led sales offer pre-packaged foods such as chips and candy, but others sell specialty foods that are freshly made, including spam musubi, beef jerky, fried rice, and Thai tea.

Students who sell prohibited food say they use their businesses to raise money for various reasons, such as paying for competitive sports teams, saving for college or simply having extra spending money. Oth- ers more altruistically claim their goal is to provide students with more appealing alternatives to the nutrition standard-restricted school lunches which many students dislike.

“Buying food from the sellers at school is cheaper and it tastes better,” senior Mason Price said. “School lunch is decent some- times, but isn’t worth the $3.75.”

One seller, who asked to remain anonymous, sells chips, Gatorade and Kit Kats. He says he makes $75 every week, which he uses to fund his baseball expenses. Separate from his food business, the seller also sells custom sports jerseys and is currently work- ing on his own clothing line.

“I charge $1 for a bag of chips, $1 for a Kit Kat and $2 for a Gatorade,” the seller said. “I have made around $200 in total.”

Another seller, who also requested anonymity, makes $180 per week and has made about $500 in total. He has asked that his product not be disclosed. He uses his profits to pay for club expenses and to save for senior graduation trips.

“There shouldn’t be consequences for selling food,” seller number two said. “High schoolers shouldn’t be punished for trying to make some money so they don’t have to keep asking their parents for it. Why should we be punished for selling food that’s cheap- er than having to buy lunch from school?”

Despite the profits that students can earn from running their mobile snack bars, the unauthorized sale of food is still against district policy and is punishable by a call home and confiscation of products that the student has.

“Students selling foods cause the snack bars on campus to lose profits,” Assistant Principal Dennis To said. “[When we catch a student selling food], we let his or her parents know and confiscate the products that they currently have.”

“In my opinion, there shouldn’t be consequences because kids usually do it to make money or fundraise,” seller number one said. “Staff should just respect the hustle.”