Since many years ago, obesity and other health problems have been increasing among American population, and young people are the most affected. Fast food industry has taken advantage of people who live in a fast-paced country, where nobody has enough time to prepare his or her own meals. According to researchers at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, fast food companies have made some improvements to their food nutritional quality. However, “The pace of improvement is slow and unlikely to reduce young people’s overconsumption of high-calorie, nutritionally poor fast food.” Most American schools and colleges only offer junk food to their students, such as EPCC Valle Verde. This campus only has Subway, Tazas Coffee and a hamburger restaurant inside the cafeteria, besides the vending machines all around the campus. None of these options are healthy as everyone can see. So how does the college expect their students to have a healthy lifestyle and a good academic development if they aren’t taking it seriously? El Paso Community College Valle Verde should get a healthy food concession stand in order to improve students’ health, students’ academic development and also for helping those students who have a medical condition.
Getting a healthy food concession stand in the campus will improve students’ health. The high salt content of fast foods, like those offered in the campus, is associated with many high blood pressure, strokes, and kidney failure. Even though the American Heart Association recommends not eating more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, meals like the 6” Turkey Italiano Melt Sandwich offered by Subway have up to 1490 milligrams of sodium, almost reaching the recommended amount without including the beverage. Even though it is known that fruits and vegetables are low in fat, salt and sugar, there is no chance to get fresh fruits cocktails or salads variety in the campus. Moreover, these super foods contain phytochemicals, plant chemicals that contain protective or disease preventive properties. Thus, eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help people to lower risks and prevent some diseases such as diabetes (type 2), strokes, cardiovascular diseases, some type of cancers and high blood pressure. Eating healthy will help students to get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need. It would be offered beverages like the Blueberry Avocado Smoothie which according to integrative and functional medicine physician Frank Lipman, MD, founder and director of Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, help lower our risk of heart disease. It’s undeniable that eating healthy can make big positive changes in students’ health.
Also, having a healthy food concession stand will improve the students’ academic development. By eating healthy, people not only improve their physical health, but they also boost their brainpower as well. According to the Huffington Post many studies have found a relationship “Between what we put in our mouths and how well we can perform important thinking and memory tasks.” Walnuts, olive oil, berries, sardines, coffee, spinach, dark chocolate, avocados, wheat germs, beets and garlic are known for being excellent helping or enhancing memory and thinking skills. Also, it has been proved that Vitamin C has the power to increase mental agility. Some of the best sources of this very important vitamin are blackcurrants, red bell peppers, kale, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, and so on. Nuts of all kinds are full of magnesium, a mineral linked to improvements in short- and long-term memory. Thus, it would be offered delicious and tasty snacks with different kind of nuts and natural fresh juices full of Vitamin C in order to enhance memory skills.
Finally, another very important reason for getting a healthy food concession stand is for helping those students who have a medical condition. According to National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, which actually are preventable death causes. People with these conditions must balance their meals and make the healthiest food choices. Therefore, they can’t eat foods super loaded with sodium and fat like those offered in the campus. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), consuming too many saturated and trans fats increases your LDL, which is bad cholesterol. There are super foods like the whole grain oats that helps people with health problems to reduce their bad cholesterol levels in blood. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that whole grain oats “Are associated with positive changes in cholesterol, indicating health benefits are greater for those who make whole grains a regular part of their daily lifestyle.” The concession stand would offer healthy meals labeled for letting the students know which meals are better for their condition. For example, there would be diabetes friendly meals such as a wheat berry and apple salad, a whole-grain side dish with a refreshing taste. Besides, all the meals would have nutritional information.
Despite of all the benefits that students would receive, opponents may argue that a healthy food concession stand in the campus would offer very expensive meals or drinks. According to a new research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), “The healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets.” This means that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, salmon, fish, and nuts does actually cost more than an unhealthy diet rich in processed foods, meats, and refined grains. Also, they may claim that the stand won’t success because most of the student community would prefer to eat hamburgers, sandwiches, sweated coffees, and pastries instead of the healthy meals. In 1980, the Federal Government released a guide to healthy eating for Americans, the Dietary Guidelines. “Though the Dietary Guidelines have been widely promoted and updated every 5 years to keep pace with advances in nutrition knowledge, Americans still make poor dietary choices.” (Guthrie, Lin, Okrent and Volpe, ers.usda.gov). For these reasons, opponents to this proposal are going to be unwilling to accept this healthy food concession stand in the campus. They would argue that this project would require supply and demand. And that even if the meals offered were tasty, convenient, and affordable for consumers, it has been shown that Americans don’t make good dietary choices.
It may be true that healthy food is not as affordable as junk food is or that most of American population still prefers to eat poor dietary meals knowing the risks. Nevertheless, if the healthy food concession stand were sponsored by the college, a boost club or any association of health care, the prices of healthy meals would be much lower than the expected. University of Iowa study shows that concession stands can benefit from offering healthy foods. In 2008, the booster club in Muscatine, Iowa committed to add healthy meals to its concessions menu and they got very positive results. The sales were over the expected and so the profits. Up to now, six more school booster clubs in Iowa have included healthy foods to their menus, following a guide written by Laroche based on her experience in Muscatine. “Booster groups have worried that healthier items wouldn’t sell, and it’s important for them to make money to support student activities,” Laroche says. “This shows it can be done.” Also, it has been proved that most of Americans would like to break some bad eating habits. According to a survey presented by The International Food Information Council Foundation, nearly all Americans report that “They are trying to improve at least one aspect of their eating habits, and nearly nine in ten (87%) have tried to eat more fruits and vegetables.” But it is almost impossible to accomplish this task for students because they are in school most of the time and there is no place in the campus or near it, where they can find healthy, tasty, convenient, and affordable food. Putting all this together, the chance to success is very high.
In conclusion opening a healthy food concession stand in El Paso Community College Valle Verde will help a lot to improve the students’ physical and mental health as well. Also, it will support those students with a medical condition that have prohibited eating certain foods that put their lives in danger. Americans are willing to change their bad eating habits, but if healthy options are not available they won’t be capable of accomplish their goals. It has been proved that with the necessary help this project can work as well as it worked in Iowa State. A healthy lifestyle should be a priority for every student and the college must be supporting it by giving their students the tools to do it. “It is apparent that fast foods are always a temptation because they are widely available, convenient and cheap, but as educators it is important to set examples for students to emulate” (MacGregor, Fisher, Liebman)