Food or No Food?

Many of my students have a low socioeconomic status and don’t eat regular meals at home; some of my students don’t even really have food at home at all.  As a result, I keep extra cereal and fruit in my classroom in the “snack cupboard.”  Students know that they can quietly go to the cupboard and get something to eat during class as long as they aren’t disruptive and as long as they stay productive.  For the years that I have been doing this, I have had complete cooperation.

Today one of my students wanted  his orange cut into wedges.  The para in my classroom had said that he wasn’t willing to cut up the orange because the student had been a complete jerk and rudely demanding for his orange to be cut.  Another student, meanwhile, asked nicely and the para went to cut his orange.  Obviously this was a lesson in social skills that did not come across to the student.  When the para came back into the classroom, the student threw his orange at the para; the orange just missed and smacked into the wall and mushed onto the floor.  Of course the aggressive student was asked to leave and was subjected to our alternative school’s discipline procedures.   When I came back into the classroom, the remaining students were discussing the incident and one student said, “I hope she doesn’t take away our snacks because of that (expletive).”

This scene was exactly why some of the teachers I’ve worked with in the past have not wanted food in their classrooms.  I have to say that it doesn’t make me want to stop offering food because I think it’s more important for the students who are being respectful to be able to have access to snacks.  I am also glad that the other students in the class saw the incident as “over the line” and are actually appreciative of the “snack cupboard” in my room.