Walking into class, encased in a black sweater, he sits down at his desk proudly displaying his crop of the day. He opens his backpack and half the class surrounds him. Big Red Gum: $0.25. Starbursts: $1.00. Snickers: $1.25. The convenience of my candy dealer? Priceless.
I’ve encountered many candy dealers around Samo and, due to the illegality of candy dealing, code names are necessary. My first candy dealer, Skittles Boy, is one of the more successful “entrepreneurs” at our school. He makes an impressive $80 in a week, the equivalent of working eight hours in a store, by selling candy out of his backpack.
My second candy dealing experience felt much like a drug trade. Class had just gotten out and the students were walking through the hallways, now a makeshift marketplace, and weaving his way through the mob is Airhead. He approached students, quickly revealing his stash of Airheads, one dollar apiece.
So I get easy candy and he gets easy money, what’s the problem? The school would rather me support stores than students but I personally don’t see a flaw.
Sugar has long been a popular “drug” consumed and sold in schools nationwide. However, concerns over health, obesity and the risk of diabetes have led Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) schools to institute a ban on sugary snacks. In lieu of this candy prohibition, some students are starting to deal candy on their version of an “underground market.”
In search of the problem the administration has with candy dealing, I ventured to M-House Principal Larry Boone’s office. According to Boone, the district policies state that it is not only illegal for a student to be selling anything without a permit, but it is also illegal for anyone to be selling sugar until 30 minutes after school.
After my conversation with Boone I continued on with my hunt by looking up the SMMUSD Wellness Policy in 2010-2011. The policy went into effect as of July 1, 2007 and cites the senate bills 12 and 965, established to prevent childhood obesity and maintain nutrition standards for students. Though the administration stresses the dangers of consuming candy for its excess sugars and fats, many of the items on the list of banned foods are sold during school hours with recipes that have been specifically modified to comply with the policy.
“When kids are collecting their own money, it’s a safety issue,” Boone said. “If kids are wandering around during school hours with large amounts of money, possibly produced from candy dealing, they gain the risk of it being stolen or getting beat up for it.”
In addition to concerns over money issues, there is the safety of the food being sold to consider. He continued to tell me about a kid who had made his own candy by wrapping melted Jolly Ranchers around lollipops.
“There are many safety and health concerns for kids making their own candy. Kids can get sick and [individuals selling candy] aren’t equipped to handle the insurance lawsuits that would come,” Boone said.
Okay, fine, I do see the hazards — but what are the punishments if you get caught?
“First time I usually give the person a warning but depending on the students’ disciplinary record, and if its a repeated offense, then it could ultimately lead to the worst case scenario — suspension — for however long is necessary,” Boone said.
To sum it up, candy dealers are not allowed to sell candy at school because they do not have a permit, there are possibilities of kids making their own candy and it is a hazard for a student to be carrying around more than $80.
“I think it’s dumb that the administration doesn’t support us being entrepreneurs when they constantly send the message to motivate yourself and are constantly promoting success when all they’re doing is shutting me down,” Skittles Boy said.
According to this policy the things we are allowed to eat during school hours are:
- Water, NO SUGAR ADDED
- 100% Juice, Fruit Leathers, Juice Bars
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Low-fat or Non-fat Milk, Yogurt
- Nuts, Seeds, Trail Mix
- Baked Chips
And the ones that aren’t:
- Soda**, Fruit Punch, Capri Sun, Sunny Delight, etc.
- Nachos*, Chips*, Cheetos*
- Donuts, Cakes, Cookies, Cupcakes
- Fried vegetables
- Fruit cups with added sugar
- Ice Cream*
*=sold on campus during school hours
**=sold 30 minutes after school which complies with the wellness policy