A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Opinion, Showcase

Crimes in the cafeteria: district fork policy is spoiling your lunch

Forks. Let’s talk about forks.

All these serious global issues are happening and I want to talk about forks. Just yesterday, a false missile launch warning had Hawaiians worried for their lives and I want to talk about forks. Children are starving and corrupt politicians are thriving, and yet, I believe that the absolute most urgent knowledge you need to have is the fork famine. That’s right, this educational institution is experiencing a fork famine of epic magnitude.

Many of you now know that the kind staffers of the cafeteria lunch line do not hand out forks to just anyone. Picture this: you just finished microwaving your malnutritious Kraft Mac’n’Cheese and sit down to eat it. You then realize that you forgot your fork at home and have no way to eat it. Knowing that the school lunch is given out with forks, you march down to the lunch line to see if you can cop one for yourself. Guess what, you can’t. They don’t give out free forks. Having spent all your money on Kraft Mac’n’Cheese you are unable to buy a fork so you return to your table. Dejected and penniless, you attempt to dump your Kraft Mac’n’Cheese into your mouth with a pen from the bottom of your friend’s backpack until the bell rings (this is not recommended).

But even if you hadn’t spent all your money on Kraft Mac’n’Cheese you’d still be out of luck. The lunch ladies don’t sell forks either. No amount of money will convince them to cough up a single plastic, disposable eating utensil. You have to get a school lunch with that sweetie. This somewhat makes sense, as it seemed like they only give out forks to those who are paying into the system. To find out, our news team went in to investigate. One reporter purchased a cookie, and now that they had paid 50 cents into the system, asked to have a fork with their ‘meal’. Their request was declined. Sorry, sweetie, you don’t need a fork to eat a cookie. This points out two key concepts. 1: just paying into the system will not earn you a utensil, and 2: the lunch ladies somehow have the power to determine what foods require a fork. Who are they to decide how we eat?

Another student, a regular patron of LPS school lunches, picked up a calzone and was not granted a fork for even that. I get it, you can eat a cookie without a fork just fine. But a calzone? This student spent the rest of the lunch period with their fingers covered in cheese/mystery meat and likely ate whatever bacteria was on his hands.

It is silly to say that the reason for their fork-hoarding behavior to be completely economic if they will not even sell forks. U-line, an industrial supplier, sells wholesale bulk forks at a cost of $38 for one thousand plastic forks. That’s less than 4 cents per fork. If they sell forks for a dime they’re not only recovering the cost of the fork but even making a profit to buy more forks! If not used for profit, the extra 6.2 cents of cash earned per fork would easily cover the cost of forks given for free to students who qualify for free/reduced lunch.

But what if the concern for selling forks is ecological? What if the district is trying to limit fork waste? Firstly, I doubt this is the case given that they use styrofoam lunch trays instead of reusable plastic ones, but even if it was, there are also compostable forks that can be bought for around 4.3 cents each.

There is absolutely no reason to be cracking down on fork use in the cafeteria. THE HOARDING MUST END. If there is neither a financial nor an environmental concern for restricting access to forks, then at the very least hungry students should be able to buy forks. (Note 1: this issue applies to knives and spoons as well.) (Note 2: this is not the fault of the ‘lunch ladies’ but the district’s political actions.) Please, Littleton Public Schools, give a fork and don’t let one more student walk to 8th period with their hands covered in Kraft microwavable Mac’n’Cheese. Terminate the fiendish fork policy NOW.