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Food Fair Events Become Table Scraps After District Policy

By Brandan Wong, Clarion Staff

Food fairs have been among one of the most sought after events on the Kennedy campus. Taking place once every quarter and during middle school visitation days, food fairs are a lunch event where JFK clubs and organizations peddle food as a means to fundraise. The event has always brought a great sum of revenue for clubs and organizations that participate as well as love from the student body.

Example of food sold during Spring 2017 Kennedy Food Fair (Photo by Kayla Hamahashi)

On September 18, Vanessa Buitrago, Assistant Principal at JFK, informed staff members via email “During last Friday’s Club Advisor Meeting, I shared with advisors that our school may need to cancel food fairs moving forward due to previous and new board policies.”   When information circulated about the events possibly being cancelled, students were outraged. Students were confused about the reasons for the change and the conflicting information that followed.

The district’s nutritional policy states schools must abide by a set strict nutritional guideline and health curriculum. The policy goes in detail regarding the sale of outside food explaining that, “The only foods and beverages served and sold to pupils on campus outside of school meal program by all entities from midnight through one-half hour after the standard school day are those that meet all applicable state and federal rules found within.”

The guidelines states that fundraising activities from student organizations must follow another set policy. Policy explains that student fundraisers cannot occur during the school day and must be done thirty minutes after the school. The only exception is if an organization is legally recognized as charitable and has also been approved by the district board.

Foods for fundraisers cannot be prepared on campus, and only one student organization can sell each day. The policy also explained that administration can create four days per year where student organizations can fundraise at the same time.

The district policy conflicts with the food fair events that take place at Kennedy. Despite this, Buitrago encourages optimism towards finding new ways to continue this event and ends her memo stating, “…sometimes roadblocks and closed doors are invitations to think outside of the box and do things differently. I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we face new challenges together.”

At the recent Clarion press conference with Principal David Van Natten, the principal echoed Ms. Buitrago’s earlier statements. He stated, “It’s sort of on hold, we’ve done food fairs for a certain way for quite a number of years, at least for the six years I have been here, and the way we have done them is not entirely okay.”  He continued, “We are not in compliance with certain education codes but also other district policies, nowhere does it say we can’t have food fairs, we can have food fairs, but there are very specific state guidelines with regard to what can be served…it’s not that we can’t have the food fairs, and I think we would be able to have food fairs going forward, but given the restrictiveness, we sort of started to ask would we be better off finding an alternative, some other way for clubs to be able to raise funds cause this is going to become more difficult to do without getting ourselves in trouble.

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