Junk food wars: Student Store has lost some business to cafeteria

Emilie Benyowitz

Alexa Fishman, Staff Writer

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Sodas, cookies and chips for sale in the cafeteria this year have hurt business at the Shalhevet Student Store, potentially reducing how much money the store can raise for the senior Poland-Israel trip that takes place in May.

It’s the second year in a row that profits from the student-run store are helping fund the trip. Last year, the first time when it was run by then-sophomore Jacob Ellenhorn, the store managed to raise $8,000, which covered two students since the trip costs about $4000 a person.

This year, one month into school the store has raised only $650, compared to about $2,000 this time last year.

Jacob said the problem is serious competition from the cafeteria, which last year under coach Raelyn Bieda sold only healthy food, but which now sells soft drinks and various crunchy snacks as well.

Though the cafeteria has made business harder for Jacob, he isn’t resentful at all.

“It is nothing personal, because they are entitled to make a living, and our competition benefits the customer,” says Jacob, now a junior. His own class has already started fundraising for Poland-Israel 2013.

Raelyn Bieda, who is also the girls P.E. teacher, was in charge of nutrition last year when snacks were banned from the cafeteria. But she didn’t complain about the change because the cafeteria still has something healthy all the time.

“I am not involved this year,” said Coach Rae, “[but] as long as there are healthy options, such as fruits, veggies, and salads, I’m fine.”

Profit or not, the Student Store is a popular spot at lunchtime and during the break after Mincha.

Jacob unlocks the door to what is essentially a very large closet every day during lunch and the break after Mincha to sell candy and snacks. Students can easily find the store, which is located in a corner of the lunch room, directly across the hall from the cafeteria.

The store was started by then-freshman Jeremy Lowe ’09, who originally sold Shalhevet spirit wear, which had not been available before.

Back then, profits were used to increase what could be sold.

“Our profits just went right back to restocking, so we could buy and sell more memorabilia,” Jeremy said in an interview.

But last year, Jacob took it over and decided to change a few things.

In addition to spirit wear, he immediately decided to sell candy and soda, hoping to attract many new customers and consequently earn money for the senior trip.

Even though the store doesn’t advertise and is hidden behind a non- descript door in a corner of the lunch room, it still has managed to do well.  When it’s open, there are usually 10 or more students lined up to get a fix of sugar or something cold to drink.

Jacob said the biggest sellers this year are Zours, which have been popular with kids in all grades who enjoy buying a package for just a dollar.

“Most of this year’s profit has been made on Zours,” said Jacob.

The snack foods may be a hit with students, but not everyone thinks they’re ideal.  For example, Judaic Studies Principal Rabbi Ari Leubitz would prefer some healthier options available for purchase.

“I would love to see some foods that have an expiration date,” Rabbi Leubitz said.

Jacob countered that kids won’t buy healthy options if there is also soda and candy available, and noted that the school also has vending machines just a few feet from the store.

“The vending machines are there for granola bars,” Jacob said.

Jacob said he buys all the food wholesale, usually shopping for it with his mother, Shalhevet PTA President Mrs. Edith Ellenhorn. Together they pick out exactly what they think the students would enjoy eating.

Money collected goes directly to Lori Fogel, the school’s Chief Financial Officer, and from there into a separate bank account fund for the Senior Trip to Poland and Israel.

Occasionally, Jacob uses a small portion of the profit to restock, but most of the time, people donate money for the food, he said.

Senior class co-president Ariella Joffe commended Jacob for his donation policy.

“It’s really helpful and nice of Jacob to fund-raise for us, though he isn’t even in our grade,” Ariella said.

Other fans are his customers.

“I love the student store because it is so convenient,” said sophomore Jennie Drazin.

Freshman David Ohana wishes the store were open more – during breakfast, for example. But Jacob thinks fewer snacks would be sold then.

“Both lunch and Mincha are equally busy,” Jacob said.

Jacob said his favorite thing about running the student store is getting to know all the students at Shalhevet.

“By the end of the year, I know the names of every student in the school,” Jacob said.

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