On October 26, and all-day student protest was held in the quad against the closure of the Eagle’s Nest Café, run by the Culinary Arts program. The protest attracted 62 students by second period and 80 more during brunch.
According to senior A.J. Pajarillo, a senior culinary student who helped organize the protest, the demonstration was staged against the district administration as well as the state and federal food and beverage restriction laws.
“We thought that [the protest] was going to get the attention of the administration, and we were hoping that they would do something about it,” A.J. said.
According to Julia Rosenberg, a member of the District Board of Trustees, the administration is aware of the impact the new laws have on the culinary arts program. District and school administrators are talking with local, state and national legislators to resolve the laws restricting culinary’s ability to sell to students.
“I applaud the students’ commitment to standing up for their beliefs, but I think that in this case they may not have chosen the most effective method of expressing their thoughts,” Rosenberg said. “The best way to help raise awareness with the legislators, both federal and state, is to have the students themselves tell their story.”
Food and Beverage Laws
The state law prevents unhealthy food from being sold to the students. The federal law explicitly prevents “student organizations” from selling food “prepared on campus” or the same food sold by the school’s “food service program.”
“The [state] law doesn’t differentiate between a student group selling candy bars or doughnuts and the students from the culinary arts program who want to sell fresh, healthy food made from quality ingredients,” Rosenberg said.
According to Superintendent Barry Groves, culinary’s Eagle’s Nest Café had to stop selling to students this year because an auditor found the sales in violation of the state’s laws in May 2007.
Once it was brought to the auditor’s attention, both Groves and Associate Superintendent of Business Services Joe White were asked to sign statements affirming that they would not violate the law.
Effects on Culinary Program
According to Culinary Arts teacher better Ewing, the law is doing a “disservice” to her 90 students by only allowing them to sell to staff. The program will lose between $10,000 and $15,000 this year because its cart can no longer sell to students.
All the money students made goes back into the program, a majority into buying ingredients for each day’s preparation.
Because Culinary Arts only makes $100 weekly profit by selling to teachers, students have not been able to prepare many meats and seafood.
“[Stopping sales to students] will cut into the value and level of the food,” Ewing said.
Though the students cannot sell to other students, they still produce food, most of which is thrown in the trash can.
According to Ewing, the culinary program receives $7,000 each year from the school district funds, and not group has yet to subsidize money needed by Culinary Arts. According to Groves, any future subsidies would have to come at the discretion of Principal Wynne Satterwhite.
Ewing and students in the culinary arts classes plan to approach district officials at a future school board meeting to discuss possible solutions to the issue.