Opinion | Charging for Utensils


For many students, the policy which charges them for utensils causes inconvenience. However, the policy serves to ensure that the lunch program may continue running as it does.

If you’ve ever needed a fork, whether it be because you forgot to pack one with your homemade lunch or did not grab one from the cashier at one of Great Neck’s eateries, you have most likely been exposed to the recent policy at North High— the charging of 5 cents for utensils.

The policy, implemented six to seven years ago, requires students who have not purchased food from the cafeteria to pay for their utensils instead of allowing them to freely take them. On the other hand, free utensils are provided for those who have purchased meals that warrant the use of a utensil.

For those affected, the policy had largely been enforced laxly — until recently.

The reaction to the recent stricter enforcement has been negative.  

Students complain that they have to break up bills and receive large numbers of coins back or rummage through their bags for change.

“The new utensil policy is just really a nuisance,” junior Sarah Frankel said. “A utensil is just how you eat. And who’s to say that everyone’s just going to happen to have nickels lying around?”

However inconvenient, is the policy really as terrible as we think it to be?

While we as students may see the policy as an utter outrage, it’s important to consider that its enactment was the administration’s response to our own abuse of the system in the past.

“Students were purchasing from local establishments only to return to school and use utensils,” Patricia Daley-Jimenez, director of food and nutrition services, told Guide Post in an email. “The school district general fund (revenues raised from taxpayer dollars) does not assume any cafeteria expense. Thus revenues from the sale of meals & some governmental financial assistance must be sufficient to meet the expense to operate the program.”

Yet, despite the success of the lunch program being at stake, strict enforcement of the policy has been inconsistent. As a result, students have found the efforts to enforce the policy futile.

“I just think it’s kind of pointless,” sophomore Ari Lissack said. “People can still go in and sneakily get the utensils themselves or ask their friends to get forks for them.”

Evidently, Lissack brings up a valid point. Why have the policy if it is not strictly enforced? The answer lies within the reasoning of the administration.

Cafeteria expenses create a deficit from the School Nutrition Fund such that free distribution of the utensils, when students have not purchased the school lunch, would greatly impact the operation of the program.

However strict the enforcement of the policy may be, it is being done to address past precedents of  students’ abuse of the system and help ensure that the program can continue.