By Daniel Contreras, Philippe De Jesus and Angel Flores
The smell of sizzling chicken was delightful when customers walked through the doors of El Pollo Loco. The sight of the food looked lovely because of all the healthy options that you could choose.
The fast food industry impacts the youth in our community by providing a convenient source of food and educational opportunities. This helps adolescents whose parents aren’t always home to cook. It also helps students who work at fast food restaurants through the programs the restaurant have in place to help their education.
“Well, in this country, it’s a lot of support because, since people are working, it is easy for them after work to get food. At least with us, that is healthier to make their lives easier,” Elizabeth Chavez, manager of El Pollo Loco located at South White Road San Jose, said (her answers have been translated from Spanish).
Ms. Chavez added that it’s easier to eat out than to eat at home when parents are working. “They have the ease of in any corner they find a restaurant, and they are more influenced to eat out rather than eating at home, or for them to learn how to prepare food,” she said.
Ms. Chavez said that working in the food industry helps build leadership. “In times when they come in as cashiers or in lobby you can team them to move up in positions because there are different responsibilities,” she said.
“They are learning different functions, and they notice that they have the capacity to move up in position; they could get to become crew leaders. There have been students that made it to supervisors because of what they have learned at school and applied it to work,” Ms. Chavez said.
Ms. Chavez added that every job has responsibilities and that you should work to your best extent because it’s based on your future. “They learn how to be on time, responsible, work with others, and they could learn things they have never done before,” she said.
Ms. Chavez said that they have a program that gives back to the community. “I forgot what is it called, but you have options. It’s like a type of foundation where you can come once a week in a period of four hours and they return 20 percent of your contribution to schools, churches, community groups, etc.,” she said. “We also offer part-time jobs for students in the schools around us.”
“We have a mission to provide good service, a good meal, and a good working community. At the same time the community benefits as well because they see we have great people working here, so that makes them happy,” Ms. Chavez said.
The manager of Subway located at Story Road San Jose, Elvia Medano, also shared her opinion on how the food industry helps the community. Ms. Medano explained how working in the food industry can help benefit students.
“We adjust to their schedules; we don’t obstruct their school’s hours or testing or homework time,” Ms. Medano said (her answers have been translated from Spanish). “Many food industries have scholarships for students that help them choose a better college or donate money to their schools.”
Ms. Medano then explained how the health of the customers are influenced when they eat at Subway and how convenient fast food restaurants are.
Ms. Medano explained how parents are not always home to cook food. “They go to fast food restaurants to get something fast and that helps them,” she said.
Ms. Medano explained that people who ordered their food usually picked the unhealthy choices. “I’m not saying that the food here is unhealthy, but some of the contents like salami and pastrami are unhealthy and people consume a lot of that,” she said.
Yet, Ms. Medano said that they have a lot of healthy choices to pick from on the menu. “We have a variety of healthy food,” she said.
Television also plays a large role in what teenagers eat. According to Chron, TV is a large source of food ads for adolescents. “There is a strong connection between teens’ eating habits and fast food commercials. In a study of more than 12,000 teenagers to investigate the effects of fast food advertising on teenagers, teens who spent more than two hours watching commercial TV were likely to indulge in eating unhealthy foods like fast foods, sugary drinks and snacks than those who did not. Results from the study also indicated that fast food ads on the Internet led to increased consumption of the foods.”
This is troubling because children who view more fast food ads are more at risk of being overweight than those who do not. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “In a survey of 3,342 youths aged between 15 and 23 researchers found that a higher percentage of obese and overweight participants identified with fast food ads.”
The next time you eat at fast food places such as El Pollo Loco or Subway, try choosing the healthier choices. Also working at fast food places is not a bad idea because it may help you succeed in the future and build up your skills.
Featured Image (at the top of this post): Elizabeth Chavez, manager of El Pollo Loco