Opinions of the Student Store form a mixed bag

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Robin Linares

Volunteers help students as they order snacks at the Student Store. “It can be crowded,” senior Rhiannon Windeler said. “The volunteers that work there are pretty nice, though.”

With the hustle and bustle of the school day, as students rush to see friends or take the quickest route to class, one location often makes them stop and turn: the Student Store.

At the Student Store, a student has multiple options with a dollar in hand, ranging from an ice cream sandwich to a bag of chips or four packets of Welch’s fruit snacks. 

But there is a larger process behind the scenes to get these snacks into students’ hands. 

According to Alexis Garcia, the Student Store chair for the Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA), multiple volunteers are responsible for ensuring food is stocked.

“The store has five purchasers that keep the store stocked: one bagel purchaser, two ice cream buyers, and two general purchasers,” Garcia said. “These five volunteers run to stores up and down the peninsula, sourcing products as well as purchasing items online.”

Parents like Mira Sinha are quick to step up and fill these roles so the Student Store does not go understaffed.

“There are enough returning volunteers that they don’t loudly broadcast a need for volunteers at the Student Store. When I first started, I had to get in a shift. It was a little bit exclusive,” Sinha said. 

For some students, like junior Jessie Rizvi, the Student Store is a cheap alternative if they are not interested in the school lunch that day or if they want a nice snack or drink.

“I sometimes forget to pack a lunch, and the school lunches are okay, but sometimes I prefer to get a snack at the Student Store,” Rizvi said. “Typically, I go for a bag of chips or an IZZE.”

But students have different perceptions of the Student Store. Junior Anisha Singh’s opinion was influenced by a recent instance where the Student Store sold expired chips.

Most of the time, if we see stock expiring and it is not selling, we shift it to the Carlmont Pantry to be given to students who need food.”

— Alexis Garcia

“I had a bag of expired Cheetos. There was a box of expired chips and a box of new chips, but they kept selling chips from the expired box,” Singh said. “I think we told someone at the Student Store, and they just said they had mixed up the boxes.”

Garcia responded to the concerns and explained the typical procedures designed to prevent expired food from being sold. 

“We have had stock that went out of date that a student noticed recently. We pulled all expired stock, and volunteers took it for free. That has happened once in the past three years,” Garcia said. “Most of the time, if we see stock expiring and it is not selling, we shift it to the Carlmont Pantry to be given to students who need food.”

Moreover, Sinha explained that there is a delicate balance when ordering goods for the store, so nothing sells out too quickly or hangs around too long. 

“One of the tricky things is that a lot of this stuff is in packs, so it might have plain flavor and barbecue flavor in the same pack, but everybody wants one flavor, so you have to let some of the others run out before you buy more,” Sinha said.

Another parent volunteer, Heather Irwin, who has volunteered at the Student Store for the past 12 years, explained other efforts to avoid sales of expired food.

“The person responsible for purchasing is really good about keeping a rotation so that we don’t often have expired food, and is always making sure that boxes are labeled with the expiration date, so we know which ones to stock first,” Irwin said. 

Students like Rizvi acknowledge the time volunteers take to from their day to work the store. 

“It’s much appreciated. They’ve all been nice when I’ve ordered stuff, and I think it’s cool that people are volunteering for that,” Rizvi said. 

The volunteers also value the connections they can make with students by working at the Student Store.

“It’s great to be here to see what’s going on on campus and see kids that you’ve known since elementary school coming in and saying hi,” Irwin said.