Let Us Eat Cake

Lauren D’Angelo


No organism can live without it. The TDSB says that it “is necessary for student development.”  It’s what makes Earth unique. And yet, food is banned from North Toronto’s classrooms. 

According to North Toronto’s Code of Respect and Behaviour, all students must “show respect for ourselves by taking steps to ensure a healthy lifestyle.” So, please, somebody tell me exactly how I am showing respect to myself when my stomach is growling in math class because I skipped lunch in order to take a science re-test and I can’t eat the healthy sandwich I packed? How am I showing respect to our school when I skip the class, or come in late, because I just can’t take not eating anymore? And how am I showing respect to the student’s around me when I purposely sit at the back to try to quietly nibble on some raisins to satisfy my hunger? 

When NT creates rules such as the “no food in classrooms” policy, they are giving students four options:

Option one: Don’t eat, just suffer in silence.

Option two:  Quietly try to scarf down some food without letting the teacher see you.

Option three: Come in late, or (in fear of getting a late slip) skip the class altogether.

Option four: Shove an unhealthy tidbit of “food” in your mouth while running to class.

Lovely options, aren’t they? 

North Toronto students are known to be involved in an exceptional number of extracurricular activities, many of which take place in classrooms at lunch. The school should be doing everything to continue this tradition – however by reinforcing this no food in classrooms rule, it makes it harder for students to commit to joining a team or a club. Many students choose not to join a club simply because they need their food. Grade nine student Madison agrees. “I wanted to join a club, but I was worried about eating lunch. It was kind of like ‘is it really worth it?” 

North Toronto is one of Toronto’s leading academic schools, and yet, again, this food rule is getting in the way of the achievement of students. There are direct links between student achievement and good food. Kids who have eaten have been proven to exhibit less aggression, attend more classes, get fewer suspensions, and receive higher grades, according to interim calculations by the TDSB. Students who eat before or at school do better in maths and sciences, and are 17% more likely to graduate than those who go without food. Imagine how much better NT students would perform if we were actually able to eat a healthy lunch! If a student cannot eat their lunch in the classroom that their club is taking place in, their afternoon will be a tight spiral down for them.  A student cannot possibly concentrate on a lesson, a test, or anything, if their stomach is begging for them to eat a something. 

I do recognize that a clean school is a healthy environment for people, and I do recognize that nobody ever wants to sit at a sticky desk, or have bugs or rodents in the school. But shouldn’t there be a compromise? We are high school students, not babies. We do have the ability to eat neatly and not create a big mess every time we crack open a box of raisins. I believe that it would be best for students to be able to eat in classrooms at lunch as long as the students clean up after themselves, and as long as it is in a facility that doesn’t propose a health risk – for example the science labs or the art room.

As far as eating during classes goes, perhaps the matter should be up to the teachers to decide whether they are fine with kids eating during their class. (And hey, if a student makes a mess and the teachers don’t see, we can always find out who it was using our new cameras!) So I say, let us eat cake, or at least a carrot stick.