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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

School board to consider a coffee shop at Nashua High School North

NASHUA – Could Nashua High School North become the Gate City’s newest destination to grab a cup of joe during the upcoming school year?

That’s the proposal being pitched by one high school junior who has the ear of the Board of Education. ...

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NASHUA – Could Nashua High School North become the Gate City’s newest destination to grab a cup of joe during the upcoming school year?

That’s the proposal being pitched by one high school junior who has the ear of the Board of Education.

Nashua High School North student Andrew Lambert, the school’s elected representative on the school board, is set to give a presentation Tuesday evening about his proposal to allow sales of coffee to students at the school.

“Students drink coffee regardless of whether or not we’re going to allow it in schools or not,” he said recently, “and the way I’m looking at is when it comes to schools saying ‘No coffee,’ we’re really just saying, ‘We don’t want you guys drinking it in the building.’ But if we were to switch that around and sell it to the students, we can make revenue of about $3 per cup, and we can look at pure profit at the end of the month, after sales and after expenses.”

The Nashua High School North student handbook doesn’t specifically mention coffee, but Lambert said in his experience, teachers and administrators discourage students from bringing coffee into the classroom. That’s partially because of the safety issues surrounding hot liquids, he said.

“The school – as far as they know, coffee is not in the building,” he said. “They don’t sell it; they don’t allow it. If you can get it in, you can get it in, but other than that, not allowed.”

Lambert said the issue has become one of the chief concerns among students since he took office as Nashua High School North’s student representative on the school board in January.

Lambert originally envisioned approaching the school board about developing a policy that would allow students to bring coffee into school, but the more he thought about it, the more sense it made for the school to take a proactive role.

Granite State Credit Union, which previously had a branch in the school building, recently vacated the space, freeing up an office that could be used for a new coffee retail space. Lambert said he proposing having the school run the business, and allowing students to get experience behind the counter.

Serving the coffee in travel mugs would cut down on the potential of burns from hot liquids, he said. And the proposal could have myriad benefits. First and foremost, it could be a money maker for the school district, he said. It could also encourage students to get to school on time by allowing them to buy java inside the building rather than stopping at a coffee shop on their way to class.

While students might be enthusiastic about the proposal, Board of Education President George Farrington cautioned Sunday that it’s still a long way from coming to fruition.

Farrington said he set aside time on Tuesday’s agenda to open the floor for discussion, but the board hasn’t taken any steps to get into the coffee business. The proposal will likely be sent to a committee for further input from principals and other stakeholders, he said.

“It’s just going to get it into the system, so to speak, and it will go to the Health and Wellness Committee, and they’ll look at it from that perspective,” he said.

The health benefits of drinking coffee for adults have been touted by some researchers. Nevertheless, the U.S. hasn’t developed guidelines for caffeine intake and children. Scientists have warned about caffeine’s ability to cut down a child’s appetite. Caffeine consumption may harm a child’s nutrition if drinks with caffeine replace healthy drinks such as milk, according to information available from the National Institutes of Health.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg recently cautioned that more information is needed about the impact of excessive caffeine consumption in children, particularly given the proliferation of products containing the substance, such as soda and energy drinks. Speaking at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., in August, Hamburg cautioned that it’s possible that a young child may be at risk of ingesting caffeine from many sources in a given day without even having any sense of their cumulative exposure.

“The consequences of this cumulative exposure are deserving of greater analysis, attention and understanding,” she said.

Lambert said the research he’s viewed has indicated one common belief – that growth can be stunted by caffeine consumption – is really a myth. Lambert cited a 2005 New York Times report, which states that after decades of research on the physiological results of coffee consumption, there is no evidence that it has any effect on height. In fact, Lambert said, research has shown coffee has positive impacts on discouraging certain cancers and health conditions such as diabetes.

And unless students choose to add coffee and sugar, coffee is a fat free, calorie free drink.

“Overall the health benefits outweigh the negatives 10-to-1,” he said.

The Board of Education is expected to hear a preliminary presentation at its regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Nashua High School North Board Room.

Jim Haddadin can be reached 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).