RHS Students Question Policy on Cafeteria Food Access


Cameron Ca

Hungry seniors Jack Viator and Sean Duke struggle to control their appetite for the new vending machine snacks brought to us this year by the Sophomore Class Council.

Cameron Cassano, Writer

You’re sitting in Algebra 2, while the teacher and the rest of the class discuss polynomials. You can’t focus because you are so thirsty.

What do you do?

Should students have access to snacks or drinks during school hours? If so, when should students be allowed to grab something to eat or drink?

According to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Deputy Director Andrew Cheyne, school food is critical to student health and well-being, especially for low-income students.

Cheyne insists that school food ensures that students have nutrition they need throughout the day to learn. The FRAC (Food Research & Action Center) shows that receiving free or reduced-price school lunches reduces food insecurity, obesity rates, and poor health.

As you all know, COVID-19 has affected almost everything including how students get their lunch. It has also affected things like the amount of supplies the school can get from suppliers to be able to serve their students. 

Rhinebeck Reality scheduled a meeting with Larry Anthony (Director of Food Services) to discuss his thoughts on the issue of student access to food. Anthony manages school lunches across the Hudson Valley at many different districts. 

He talked about how school lunches are a business to him. Everything he sells at our school he needs to plan to make sure he isn’t losing money. There are expenses to pay and rules to follow by the USDA about what he is able to serve students. 

He stated that as a business he would like for students to be able to come whenever they wanted as long as they’re allowed by the school administration. 

Historically, the administration’s approach to making cafeteria food available was to maximize the amount of time students stay in class, making it possible to get lunch only during students’ designated period.

Administration recently switched the rules of when students are allowed to get lunches or drinks and snacks during the day.

Rhinebeck Reality wanted to know more about this change. During a brief meeting with Principal Davenport, he talked about how he wants students to be able to get lunch during the day, but at appropriate times.

“We (the faculty and I), in general, don’t want students to leave during class,” said Mr. Davenport.

Davenport stated that if students have a special circumstance where they don’t have a lunch or breakfast that day, then it’s allowed. He agreed that he did not want students to not be able to get the proper nutrition during their school day.

But the reality is, students are not allowed to go to the cafeteria to grab drinks, snacks or lunch unless permitted by Mr. Davenport.  Students must notify Davenport and receive a pass.

Some students choose to go through their day without getting water or lunch because they don’t want to have to miss class time to go to get a pass.

Many students feel that they should be able to get anything they need (lunch or water) throughout the day— whenever they need it—just like how students have access to use basic things like bathrooms whenever they please.

Ultimately, administration wants students to use their time here at school for strictly learning purposes.

But, the students of Rhinebeck stress that they should be allowed to get drinks or snacks during class or study hall.  They feel that fuel is necessary for learning.

“I think it’s stupid.  Kids should be able to eat whenever they are hungry,” said Manny Allen (Class of 2023).