A Berkeley store owner has agreed to stop selling candy bars and sodas to middle school students who come to his store for a morning fix in a move school officials say is a first in the city.
That means students seeking Snickers, Twix or Coca-Cola will be out of luck from 8 to 9 a.m. before they start their day at Longfellow Middle School.
Friendly Market owner Yaser Musid, who has five kids of his own, said he will lose up to $100 a day in the deal. But he agreed with school counselor Rosina Keren that keeping junk food away from kids before school is a good idea.
Keren said the ban on snack sales for just one hour of the day is the most any store owner has agreed to in Berkeley.
Musid said he will offer more fruits and granola bars during that time instead.
Keren made the announcement to sixth graders Thursday morning during a school assembly.
While she was not met with wild cheers, she said she received applause from parents when she made the announcement to them earlier.
"The only ones who are unhappy with it are the students, but we're not here to make them happy," Keren said.
"I think Yaser is setting a precedent, and if we can prove he doesn't lose too much money, we can get other store owners to do it."
Musid also hopes others will follow.
"I hope this happens in every store in Berkeley, not just my store," Musid said. "When they asked me to stop selling, I said 'OK' but we need to get their parents and the school involved.'"
Keren said she decided to talk to Musid last year after she saw kids coming to school in the morning eating candy bars and drinking sodas.
"First we would ask them to put it away and tell them it's not healthy, but if they have the money in their pockets, the candy is right there for them," Keren said. "We're focused on nutrition here."
Musid said last year he tried introducing granola bars to see if the kids would buy those instead, but it didn't work. But after Keren set up a meeting with a staff member from the city manager's office and the health department, Musid decided to stop selling candy altogether in the morning, she said.