Where is Our Bubble Tea?

By A.L. Journalist Geon K. 

 

There was a time when we were allowed to order boba to school, but all of a sudden, our boba was forbidden and no boba was ever seen again at Concordia…. 

Students ordering bubble tea to school during lunch. 

As we came back from online learning, we were informed that there will be no more food deliveries to school. There seem to be a lot of reasons why the school made this decision: because of the pandemic, because the guard room is too packed, because of Aramark, etc. However, none of the students seem to know the exact reason. I have interviewed 4 seniors about their experiences ordering food to school and what it has been like after COVID. 

As I asked students about their experiences with ordering food to school, they all seemed to miss the experience. Athena Ke gave a simple response: “it was great.” Athena says that she has ordered food about once a week because it’s a lot cheaper and tastes better. Multiple students mentioned ordering boba during study hall. Amber Lueth says that she would often order during study hall as students “pass around the phone to order boba.” 

However, the joy of ordering food disappeared with the rise of COVID-19. Athena guesses that “the school is too scared that the delivery man will transmit COVID and because it will get too chaotic.” While delivering food to school isn’t allowed, multiple students confessed that they secretly ordered food to school. One student remembers a time when her group of friends ordered boba because they saw other people ordering and didn’t get caught. Unfortunately, they got caught by the guards and also by a teacher walking by. Fortunately, the teacher brought in the boba for them this one time. As such, students expressed their yearning for ordering food to school. To get a better understanding of why this regulation was imposed, I approached Irrey and Mr. Chowning, our high school secretary and high school principal, to hear what they had to say.

It was surprising to hear that both weren’t quite sure of their answers. While they both mentioned that COVID is probably the main reason why, they weren't sure about the specifics and said it was just “school policy” that we have to follow. In addition, the assumptions that were made by students were all true: because of COVID, because it gets too hectic, and because of Aramark. The reason why Aramark has to do with this problem is that Aramark is our school’s “chosen provider” and because it’s the school and Aramark’s role to provide students with a healthy diet. While both Irrey and Mr. Chowing had a basic understanding of why we can’t order food, they couldn’t answer whether this policy would ever change. I went to Mr. Baerman, Senior Director of Operations, to get further insights. 

 

According to Mr. Baerman, there are many reasons why we can’t order food to school. Here are as follows by Mr. Baerman:

1.  Covid protocols: Due to the transmission of the virus through contact with individuals as well as tangible items such as containers and food items, the government has restricted access to school campuses to essential individuals. Delivery of food items pre-Covid ran into numbers as high as 600 items per week. That would significantly increase the number of contacts of people at the gates and items moving into the campus.

2.  Food safety: Prior even to the outbreak of Covid, schools in Shanghai have been under scrutiny for food safety after there was a significant concern at another international school. At that time requirements were put in place to ensure that food served to students is prepared under the appropriate license.

3.  Environmental reasons: 

  • Energy/Pollution of Transport. Even using a conservative estimate of 600 items per week, that is 1200 trips to and from school to deliver items that are readily available either on campus or to be brought with persons coming to campus already as a student or staff.
  • Packaging. Food prepared at Concordia does not require individual packaging, and therefore has a small environmental impact.

4.  Logistics: The acceptance and handling of a large volume of food and beverage deliveries at the gate requires guards and other operational staff to accept, store, and deliver such items to their intended recipient. This means staff time to carry out these functions taking them away from their main work of securing the gates. 

In addition, Mr. Baerman stated how bringing lunch from home is different from delivering food. “When you bring food with you into campus, it is essentially coming in with you and does not create additional risk…” says Mr. Baerman. 

Mr. Baerman’s answer to whether if this policy will ever change is as follows: 

Never say never. However, I do not expect that Covid restrictions will be reduced any time soon, and food safety regulations are likely here to stay. In addition, with all of the work that has been done by students and our organization to reduce Concordia’s environmental impact from our operations, some may see a move to allow more delivery as counterproductive to those efforts.

Although students miss the joy of ordering food to school, the reasons behind the policy seem to be reasonable. It was also interesting to see the environmental reasons why they don’t want us to order food. What is your opinion on these reasons? 

Journalist Geon K. would like to thank students, Irrey, Mr. Chowning, and Mr. Baerman for taking their time to help with this investigative article.