Every morning at 7:15 AM, I walk into the wafting smells of soft, fluffy golden croissants and crispy bacon egg and cheese sandwiches on an english muffin in the cafeteria. But this year, I can’t take my breakfast with me to my classes.
WHS has a food policy to protect students with allergies to food items such as these for several years, yet a crack-down on enforcement hasn’t happened until now. This year the school chose to outlaw anything other than water outside of the cafeteria, which has a lot of students grumbling.
“The food allergy policy was developed by a committee of administrators, teachers and nurses in the spring of 2012,” said Director of Health Services Patricia Wright. “[This was] in response to the number (7) of EpiPen administrations during the school year as well as concerns raised by members of the school community, parents and staff.”
This year the school has banned all food and beverages from hallways and with the exception of water. The open campus policy for upperclassman creates additional temptations for students to have an abundance of food and drink options available to them.
“Students may bring coffee into the school. However, we are asking that outside drinks of any kind excluding water be kept to the designated areas,” Wright said.
Now I understand students get their food from outside vendors, so the school isn’t able to police whether something is or isn’t safe to be brought into the school but I have personally never seen anyone have a reaction because of a chicken finger, coffee or vitamin water from outside of school. According to cafeteria assistant Leanne Hough, the cafeteria is nut-free. She also said the main difference between foods brought in from outside vendors and those sold in the cafeteria is the quality of the cafeteria’s product.
“The food we serve follows health regulations, and it’s main benefit is for the health of the faculty and students. The food that is brought in from outside is for the purpose of a business. They don’t have regulations. Therefore they can add artificial flavors to enhance their quality,” she said.
According to Principal Anthony Parker, accountability is key when it comes to the revised policy, and it relies on both faculty and student participation.
“The food allergy policy applies to all members of the school community. That means food is to be eaten in designated areas. The administration will remind faculty and staff that the policy applies to them as well,” Parker said.
Sophomore Blaise Trodden said that if it’s a problem for one, it’s a problem for all.
“It’s terrible for the student and the school if a reaction occurs,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a slight problem for 99% of the students. If anyone gets seriously hurt then something should be done.”
Senior Roshani Nagarajah laughed as she said that the most serious consequence of the policy might be due to the new water-only rule.
“I can’t wait to see how many students fall asleep in class,” Nagarajah said, referring to the fact that coffee is now prohibited in classrooms.
Beyond what is sold in the cafeteria, the food that gets brought into school can range from a packed home lunch to a sandwich from a local restaurant. The school has no control over the outside food brought into school that could potentially pose a threat to students with allergies. This year’s student body will determine if the smell of food and beverages outside of the cafeteria leaves WHS for good.
Personally, I don’t believe this food policy will stop every last person from having food in class, because I have seen that students have not listened to the message from the administration. Thus far, the food policy has not changed what I have seen of student behavior at WHS. Students are still eating food regardless of whether it is inside or outside of the cafeteria. I believe the school has a long way to go if they are going to strictly enforce this food policy.