WOODBRIDGE, Conn. – Students at Amity Regional High School want their snacks back, and they’ve started a movement to make it happen.
School officials recently decided to enforce a no snacking rule that bans students from consuming anything other than water outside of the cafeteria, a situation that leaves students famished and impacts their health, according to a student petition on Change.org.
“The students of Amity Regional High School contend that the recent enforcement of the ‘no snacking’ rule is detrimental to their ability to learn and unfair as the faculty does not abide by this rule themselves,” the petition reads.
“Due to the rigor of AHS, many students stay up late studying or participating in extracurriculars and proceed to sleep until the last possible second in the morning in order to accumulate a barely sufficient amount of sleep (Avg: 6.5 hours, Need: 8 hours; Stanford University),” it continues. “Students cannot eat in the morning for the aforementioned reasons. Thus, this rule virtually disables students from eating at proper intervals throughout the day (as dictated by most, if not all, certified nutritionists).”
The petition explains the average dinner time in the United States is between 6 and 7 p.m., which means “for some students, there is a timespan of 17 hours between meals.”
Amity principal Anna Mahon told the New Haven Register the school’s no snacking rule is tied in part to a federal Tool for Schools program that recommends that students keep food in the cafeteria. The principal contends the rule is in place in part to protect students from unintended allergic reactions to foods like peanuts, and to keep classrooms clear of foods that would potentially attract rodents.
The student petition comes amid a nationwide student backlash against school food restrictions imposed on public schools at the urging of first lady Michelle Obama, EAGnews reports.
The regulations are saddled on schools participating the National School Lunch Program to limit calories, sugar, sodium, fat, and other aspects of foods sold on campus, and to provide appropriate school food guidelines for school officials.
In the years since the federal restrictions went into effect in 2012, more than 1.4 million students have dropped out of the National School Lunch Program. Many students complain that the unappetizing meals don’t provide enough nutrition, particularly for larger students or those involved in sports.
The school food regulations have also sparked student protests on Twitter, where many students post pictures of disgusting cafeteria offerings with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.
Mahon said she is taking students’ concerns about snacking seriously, and is proud of their “passion” on the issue. She’s open to talking about the problem, but has no authority to change the no snacking school board policy, the Register reports.
“I think it’s great our students are demonstrating their right to free speech,” she said. “I continue to be impressed by our student body.”
Both current and former students, however, aren’t very impressed with the school’s overbearing food rules.
“This is completely ridiculous. Banning snacks and drinks in class? I’m disappointed with this incredibly authoritarian decision on the part of my alma mater,” Frank Kachmar wrote on the Change.org petition. “I literally think I ate a bagel, and drank a Gatorade every single day last year in my first period class. Healthy and frequent snacks throughout the day help students remain attentive and well-nourished.
“The continuation of unwarranted and unilateral moves like this will only continue to alienate the student body.”
“I have to eat in between classes because I didn’t eat breakfast. I didn’t eat breakfast because I sleep in every day. I sleep in every day because I stayed up all night doing homework and studying for tests,” Carly Marchitto posted. “It’s either you cut back homework or give me food. Give me food or give me death.”
“This school blocked all social media sites, banned color wars, banned cookie dough, got rid of senior pranks, and even stopped giving us assignment pads,” Jill Mastrofrancesco wrote. “But getting rid of eating in class … that’s where I draw the line.”