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New food policy raises controversy

By Roxanne Glazier and Jesse Zhang
Published: September 2009

In an attempt to provide students with a cleaner school environment, South initiated a new food policy this year. The policy permits students to eat only in the cafeteria, outside the school, in the common rooms, or in adult supervised classrooms.

According to Principal Joel Stembridge, custodians lack the numbers and equipment to clean both the cafeteria and hallways after each lunch. The food policy came out of a conversation between concerned faculty, housemasters, and custodians.

“Accidents happen, and food gets spilled [in the hallways], Stembridge said. “We want to provide sanitary areas for students to eat.

According to Custodian Scott Perella, the food is now located in one area, eliminating a lot of extra work for the custodians. Perella recalls how a repairman last year could not believe how students were tossing trash into the floor and the hallways.

“[We'd] have extra hours of work just cleaning up the front of [the auditorium]. Just making it presentable for the parents, Perella said, noting how the custodians are responsible for student-made messes.

Perella believes that expending extra time and energy to clean up hallways makes cleaning other areas of the school more difficult. He feels that the school is the students’ “home away from home, and students should treat it as such.

Under the new food policy, custodians have received more help in keeping the cafeteria clean. Housemasters, teachers, and campus aides are making sure students play their part in providing each other with a cleaner lunch area.

“With the cooperation of students picking up after themselves, we can get to things that we normally can’t get to, Perella said. “It let’s us use our time more efficiently.

Custodians also noted how food left in the hallways could easily end up under the carpet and breed bacteria, resulting in possible health and safety concerns.

According to Goldrick Housemaster Henry Turner, the hallways have been significantly cleaner this year.

“Last year [there were times when] it looks as if kids left their entire meal on the floor, Turner said.

Stembridge and housemasters are aware that students may not be comfortable eating in only the cafeteria, and Stembridge hopes to work with the South Senate to find safe alternatives such as setting up picnic tables outside the building.

Wheeler Housemaster Josepha Blocker, however, is somewhat concerned with how areas outside the building may look if students regularly ate there. According to Blocker, the halls have become more hospitable under the new policy, but outside areas have become somewhat less sanitary.

“It’s not appropriate for an educational institute like South, Blocker said, regarding food messes.

According to a survey done by Denebola, students, for the most part, have not been supportive of the new food policy.

“Although I never ate in the hall, it was nice walking through the halls during lunch and seeing tons of smiling faces, senior Liza Barnes said, recalling a “more friendly environment.

Barnes believes that lunchtime was the one time during the day when students could hang out with friends and worry less about classes. Senior Suzanne Lau agreed, stating that lunch should be a time to unwind and relax, which may be more difficult to do so in louder areas such as the cafeteria.

“The front of the building provided a place for me to quietly eat and study at the same time, something I could not do anywhere else in the building, Lau said.

Sophomore Elliot Seidman, however, supports the new policy and its effects on South.

“The hallways have been much cleaner this year, Seidman said. “It bothered me a lot seeing the main entrance covered in trash.

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