Parkway curbs students of food parties with new Food Safety Protocol


Sydney Kinzy

Photo illustration of a student with peanut allergies growing concerned about the PB&J sandwich

From Halloween parties in elementary schools to the post-test food potlucks at high schools, food has become a staple in schools. Outside of lunch, students have brought snacks to school and enjoyed “food parties” in class. However, Parkway’s new Food Safety Protocol may soon change that.

“Due to [the threat of allergies], there is a change in Parkway protocol requiring that schools celebrate birthdays and other events and accomplishments without food,” Parkway elementary school Green Trails stated in an email to parents. “Food that is brought to school to be distributed will be returned home. As a staff, we support this change based on what we have learned about life threatening food allergies.”

h8ersGreen Trails is not the only school with a revised food policy; Parkway’s Food Safety Protocol is a comprehensive mandate and West High is no exception. In a schoolwide Pathfinder survey, upwards of 95 percent of students do not support the new policy.

“A lot of people like bringing in food for food parties. It also brings unity to classrooms. Some people even say that eating helps them focus better on the task at hand,” an anonymous participant in the Pathfinder survey said. “Parkway should consider the dampen on moral that this will have on kids throughout classrooms in Parkway. We need our food parties, our food sales and our popcorn and bagels.”

Due to the new policy, bagels and popcorn sales will no longer be able to fund the class of 2018’s graduation party, creating a deficit.

“If enforced as it is written, the Food Safety Protocol’s elimination of bagel and popcorn sales, and prevention of new food fundraisers before, during and after school, will significantly impact the fundraisings’ efforts of the senior class for their graduation party,” West Parent Organization (WPO) president Jeff Todd said.

Todd also advocates that high schools should be exempt from parts of the updated code.

“The WPO is certainly concerned for the welfare and safety of children in our school. We believe that while some of the aspects of Parkway’s Food Safety Protocol make sense for elementary schools, much of them do not make sense for high schools,” Todd said.

popcornTodd believes the Food Safety Protocol is not preparing students for going out into the real world, where there are no adults telling people with allergies what foods they can and cannot eat.

“High school kids are at the age where we permit them to operate licensed motorized vehicles on school property, where we are actively preparing them for their next steps in life as adults, usually on their own and typically away from home. We need to recognize that they have reached a point that they are able to advocate for themselves, and empower them to do so,” Todd said.

Seventy-seven percent of students agree.

“High schoolers should be responsible enough to know their food allergies and know what they can and can’t eat. They will need to know and get used to asking what ingredients are in something when they get beyond high school,” another anonymous survey participant said.

However, during senior Duncan McBride’s freshman year, she was rushed to the hospital because she accidentally consumed crackers with nuts in them.

danger“I got an epipen injection [in the nurse’s office at school]. Once an epipen is used in school, you have to have an emergency evacuation in an ambulance. I went to the ER for about eight hours with a relapse since it stays in your system and you get hives everywhere,” McBride said. “It’s kind of a scary experience, so I think kids that have experienced that are a lot more cautious.”

McBride believes food parties should be kept, but teachers and students should be aware of students with allergies in their classes.

“I think the bagel and popcorn sales are a good thing because people look forward to bagels, so they want to keep them,” she said. “I just think that they just shouldn’t get bagels with nuts or bagels from Bread Co where all of the bagels were touching each other because there’s a lot of cross-contamination there.”

Overall, McBride agrees the majority of the changes are the best way to promote health and safety for all students.

“I know a lot of people are upset about the food changes, but it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “They are acting like they are going to starve to death if they go a few hours without eating.”