November 2001
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Just Buy the Fries
By: Stephanie Stockley, Bishops College,
St. John's, NF

Do you like watching television? Do you like sitting in front of your computer, talking to friends on ICQ, checking your E-mail and surfing the web? You're not alone. Millions of teenagers all over the world do these things every day for hours on end! Doctors are blaming these ordinary, everyday teen activities for the increase in laziness and obesity in today's adolescence. Plus the junk food we eat! With so many fast food restaurants all within walking distance from each other, it sometimes proves to be very hard to eat healthy.

It's the same thing in schools. Most students tend to bring money and buy their lunch from the cafeteria. All cafeterias are different but most tend to provide the same type of foods to their students. In my school the most commonly bought food is french fries.

Now let's say that a typical student brings five dollars to school to buy their lunch. Our typical student buys a medium french fries, which cost $1.50, leaving her with $3.50. After eating all that salt, our student here is pretty thirsty. She goes down to the vending machine and the cheapest thing is a can of coke. Thinking nothing of it, she shells out another $1.25 for the refreshing carbonated beverage. By this time she's in the mood for a dessert, a chocolate bar perhaps, or maybe a bag of chips. She decides on the chocolate. Dropping a loonie into the slot, she now has $1.25 left for a snack after school.

Why didn't our young high school student buy anything healthy to eat? Lets see what her menu for the day is like if she substituted all that junk with more nutritious foods. For lunch she could either have the wrap, which is loaded down with fattening mayonnaise, a sandwich, or a bowl of sodium enriched soup. Well, she only has five dollars, and the wrap costs $2. 75, the sandwich costs $2.00 and the soup costs $1.50. The soup is the cheapest but they only have one flavor, tomato, and she doesn't like that kind. The sandwich it is then. She is still a little bit hungry after eating the sandwich and wants some dessert. The cafeteria does serve fruit. "Bruised, expired fruit", says Matthew Cooper, a level three student from Bishop's College, but at least it's healthier than chips. She picks up the best looking apple and heads for the cash register to pay. This little apple costs $0.80. She buys it anyway. Now for a drink. She could buy milk, but it has been sitting there for awhile and is probably quite warm. She goes to another vending machine. Her choices: water, Gatorade and juice. Gatorade is $2.25, a bottle of water is $1.50, and a bottle of juice is $2.00. She wants something tasty, so she opts for the juice. She only has $0.20 left, and she doesn't have an after school snack! I guess that $1.05 made a lot of difference.

I've interviewed many students in my school about our cafeteria situation, and it seems that most of them are concerned with their own health and nutrition, but they're also concerned with how they spend their money. Tim Martin, a Level one student complained about the high drink prices in particular. "It puts a big dent in my money", he complained. Most of them also agreed that if the juices were cheaper or of equal value to that of the soda, they would much prefer to drink the juice. Other students felt that there really wasn't much of a selection of different foods, especially when it came to healthy alternatives, which forces students to eat the high in fat, low in nutritional value, junk food. Its no wonder students are progressively becoming less motivated and energetic.

"Its too hard to resist. I have very little money and the fries are just cheaper." Shauna Pierce, a Level three student was heard to say. "This way, you get more for your buck."

It may seen ridiculous to some that us teenagers make such a big deal out of a measly $1.05, but a buck can mean a lot to people with no regular means of an income. So, with very little money, and a very small selection of food it becomes very easy to "just buy the fries".


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