Education

Foiling Food Fights

When food fights started erupting on a regular basis last fall at Paul V. Moore High School in upstate New York, something had to be done. So the principal came up with an idea: Have the parents of students suspended for launching their lunch across the table--or the room--eat in the cafeteria with their progeny for a week in exchange for expunging the suspension from school records.
by | February 2001

When food fights started erupting on a regular basis last fall at Paul V. Moore High School in upstate New York, something had to be done. So the principal came up with an idea: Have the parents of students suspended for launching their lunch across the table--or the room--eat in the cafeteria with their progeny for a week in exchange for expunging the suspension from school records.

Oh, the humiliation for teenage sons and daughters! They did not like that punishment one bit. Which is to say, it appears to be effective. During the first three months of school, there were nearly a dozen food fights, sometimes with as many as 50 students armed with institutional chow. Most often, the drill was eat a half a bag of carrots, throw a half a bag of carrots at your friends and/or enemies. Grapes were another popular source of ammo.

In an effort to send the message that Moore students had it pretty good compared with others, the school decided to cut them off from the wide variety of foods usually offered, from hot food selections to salad bar to snacks for a couple of days. So for two days, the only option was peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and enough fruit, vegetables and milk to equal a well-balanced meal.

What really got students' attention, though, was the mom-and-pop-at- lunch policy. Since Thanksgiving, when the first batch of 15 students had to dine with their parents, the instances of food hurling have stopped.

Ellen Perlman
Ellen Perlman  |  Former columnist
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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