By: Fifi Youssef
A John Jay College student spends approximately $10,000 a semester in tuition, classes, student fees, books, metro cards, and lunch. The money spent each semester can easily increase as the price of a bottle of water increases in the John Jay College vending machines.
With the price increase in water and healthy food, obesity rate increases too.
The obesity rate in 1990 was 9.3 percent, and by 2003 the percentage skyrocketed to 20.9 percent. By 2012 the rate reached 23.6 percent.
According to F as in Fat, a project of Trust for America’s Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, as of 2012, “Thirteen states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent.”
John Jay College of Criminal Justice can play a factor in these numbers, charging $1.75 for a bottle of water in the vending machines, and a dollar for a can of soda. This can change if John Jay lowers these prices.
“I think that it’s ridiculous, especially in schools. Obesity is becoming a huge epidemic among young people and children, so the least we can do is make water more affordable, or at least at a reasonable price,” said Dianna Sriskanda, a junior in English. “The fact that we can buy soda for a dollar, and not water, can often be a huge problem since we know all college students are broke.”
Sarah Dawud, a 22 year old John Jay student majoring in international criminal justice, thinks otherwise.”I think a person can spend the 2 dollars if they really wanted water and not sugary drinks; however, being that it is addicting, some people would rather drink that than drink water.”
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Standards, suggests that lower calorie drinks should be sold 20 cents less than high calorie drinks.
They require that, “water be stocked in at least 2 slots/buttons per machine; Require water and seltzer be placed at eye level, or in the highest selling position. High calorie beverages should be placed farthest from eye level, or in the lowest selling position.”
Sriskanda finds this issue can easily be changed. “I think that water can be changed easily, like outside of school Poland spring water is a dollar, and in school we have a brand that is two dollars. So I think that maybe we could switch brands.”
The reason behind selling Aquafina water is because CUNY signed a contract with Pepsi Cola to sell only products from the Pepsi Cola Company, and Aquafina is a Pepsi Cola brand.
John Jay currently has The Answer Group Vendings, vending the college, and selling water for $1.75. Manger Alan Gold said, “All CUNY colleges are dictating the prices Pepsi Cola has set.”
However, William Mandile from Champion Vending USA, vendors to 11 CUNY colleges and Fordham University, sells the Aquafina water for $1.60.
“You have a vendor who’s taking advantage,” Mandile said,“What they’ll do is in between semesters they’ll jack-up the prices when no one is looking.”
Mandile explained that the prices are set from the company themselves, and that The Answers Group has a reputation for raising prices. “That’s their m.o.,” Mandile said.
In defense, Gold expressed that these accusations are both, “inflammatory and false.”
Compared to The Answer Group, Champions Vending speaks with the college, and once an agreement has been reached they post a notice on each of the vending machines explaining the reason for the increase. These notices will be left for approximately 3 weeks.
Other than the prices of water, the cafeteria food prices are also not helping. A salad costs no less than $4.95 plus tax, fries are $3.00 and a slice of pizza costs no less than $2.50.
“I know it’s like that outside of school, but I didn’t know it was that way in school. I think it’s awful, like this definitely contributes to obesity and all the other diseases people have,” said Sriskanda.
She went on to express, “Like I didn’t know pizza was almost three dollars cause in school a bowl of fruit is $3.75. So to know all the fattening foods are cheaper is horrible. And it definitely influences what people eat.”
Dawud, on the other hand, finds that it’s fine in a sense, since it’s up to the individual. “You get what you pay for. Pizza is satisfying, unhealthy, greasy and cheesy, an eye catcher, cheap and most definitely satisfying, but a salad can be very boring even though it’s healthy.”
Sriskanda proposed an idea in helping students eat healthier and lowering the obesity rate.
“Maybe they could come up with a coupon system. At my old internship every time you purchased a healthy meal (like salad or sushi) you got this coupon, and once you had 5-6 coupons you got a meal. Each coupon would equal about a dollar so if you had five coupons you could get a meal that was five dollars, and you could only cash in if it covered the meal.”
She thinks it would work because the students would feel as if they were getting food for free and it’ll encourage them
“It all comes down to whether you are willing to pay a few more dollars for a salad and if you are committed to a healthy life-style. Some people buy pizza because it’s faster than waiting to pick out what salad you want,” Dawud said.