Rebel Closet Makes Changes to Meet New Health Requirements

A student purchases treats from the Rebel Closet

A student purchases treats from the Rebel Closet

Nicholas Fuller

Snacks such as Swedish Fish and power drinks were popular items at the school store last year.
People often complain about health regulations in America today.  Whether the ban is on something necessary like illicit drugs, which can be devastating to a person’s health, or something controversial like soda, it is clear that some people dislike most of today’s health and nutrition laws.   Many states have introduced tougher health reform in order to limit social and health problems, such as obesity, which has affected one of out every third American citizen. Most people would agree some things need to be banned, but when do health and nutrition laws go too far?

The WHS school store has had to eliminate some of its unhealthier snacks in order to meet the guidelines of the Massachusetts School Nutrition Bill.  Under the new law, snacks are to be 200 calories or less per item, have less than 200 mg of sodium per item, and be completely trans-fat free. Additionally, the Rebel Closet can only sell 100% real fruit or vegetable juice, water, and milk or flavored milk that has less than 22 grams of sugar per eight ounces.  Also, artificial sweeteners are banned and only trace amounts of caffeine are permitted.  Such changes limit what the store can sell, but students need to understand that the rebel closet is simply making adjustments to a state law and not for their own healthy initiative.  As Mrs. Diviris said, “If we did not make the changes, we would be breaking the law.”

Things like candy, soft drinks, power drinks, and chip bags will no longer be available at the school store, whiches raises questions about whether turnout for the store will be lower than past years.  Despite such changes, the attitude about the store is still optimistic.  After being asked about healthy food replacements, Mrs Diviris, a special education teacher who helps run the school store, said that things like “Italian ice, baked chip bags, and granola bars” are snacks that nearly everyone likes that meet the guidelines of the new nutrition law.  The store will also be selling other snacks, such as pretzels, goldfish, trail mix, and 100% real fruit slushes.  Such attempts to still provide good snack options that are healthy by Mrs. Caine and Mrs. Diviris are admirable.  But if students are unwilling to give the new products a try, turnout will suffer.

The Rebel Closet is more than just a store for students and staff to purchase items, but it is also an important learning tool for special education students who run the store.  “They help with the shipments, they handle the money, and they run the store after school” said Mrs. Diviris.  The significant role Mrs. Caine and Mrs. Diviris’s students have in running the store not only helps them learn about responsibility and management, but also helps them interact with students they normally would not get the chance to interact with.  If the store loses customers, however, sales and the experience for the special education students could be not as successful as in past years.

Students who stay after school for extracurricular activities and sports often go to the school store to purchase items because it is convenient and easy.  But with the new health requirements, students may be less likely to want to go to the rebel closet.  Along with convenience, going to the school store is also a good way to support the school and show rebel pride. Spirit week is just around the corner, and the Rebel Closet is hoping it helps the store sell lots of rebel gear.  The store will continue to sell rebel apparel, and will open after school on Monday, October 1, 2012.