Food and drink in the classroomWhat is your policy on food and/or drink in the classroom? I generally allow it as long as it doesn't create a distraction or a mess. I find that students comply...

Food and drink in the classroom

What is your policy on food and/or drink in the classroom? I generally allow it as long as it doesn't create a distraction or a mess. I find that students comply readily, and it saves so much time and hassle not having to chase it down as a disciplinary infraction. I also think the kids (I teach high school) pay attention better when they aren't starving.

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I teach primarily high school juniors and seniors, and I allow food in the classroom. I made this decision after my first semester of teaching when I found that focusing so much on nit-picky items such as whether someone has a bag of Skittles in his pocket was taking away from my instructional time. Additionally, because of the age of my students, they actually seem to be more respectful about cleaning up after themselves when they realize that I think they are responsible enough to handle it. At the beginning of each semester, I explain my policy to the students, warn them that their privileges will be revoked, and discuss who our custodians are so that they will appreciate the work that they do in the building.

While I really don't care if my students like me, it is important to avoid creating an antagonistic environment in the classroom. I've heard students complain about teachers who eat and drink in front of them or use their cell phones in front of them, all while telling them that they cannot do the same. Because teenagers especially are so observant of hypocrisy, I think that high school teachers have to be careful about not goading their students.

One final point, more and more of my students come from extremely impoverished homes or are actually classified as homeless. Because I have this knowledge, I have to keep in mind that those students are not going to be able to focus on my English lesson if they have not eaten for several hours. Sometimes the only way that they get any type of breakfast is from other students' sharing snacks with them. The post about nobody starving by going without food for three hours is, unfortunately, inapplicable to my region because it's not just three hours that the student has been without food; sometimes it's since the previous night or afternoon. There is a difference between the college classroom and the typical public school classroom because we are dealing with young people of an age when someone should be looking out for their basic needs but is not doing so.



wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the first high school I worked at, the students were able to handle food in the classroom.  I allowed them to have whatever they wanted as long as it wasn't a distraction (ie don't bring a big mac in and spread it out all over your desk).  There were a few spills but the kids knew to clean it up quickly or I'd have to tell them no more food and drink.

The second high school I taught at was completely different.  Students could not have food or drink in the classroom.  They could barely manage to have gum without it being a catastrophe.  Students who came in with a drink and didn't want to throw it away had to put it in a special spot on the teacher's desk until the end of class. 

I'd really say it depends on your students.  Some kids can handle being treated more like adults and others really aren't ready for that yet.  Bottom line: food and drink shouldn't interfere with their learning environment, but that could mean very different things for each classroom.

taylormath eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't mind students eating in class, as long as what they are eating will promote good health.  One problem high school students consistently exhibit is poor food choices and portion size.  So, even though I don't mind students eating in class, I don't allow it during the school day.  I'm bothered when a students opens a large, family-size bag of chips and starts consuming without thought of the number of calories being added up.  When students sit for 6 periods a day, with only one PE class, they are not burning enough calories to make up for eating in every class.

If I had the time during class to police what the students ate, quantity and quality, I might take a different approach.  I like to eat 3 lighter meals and 2 snacks each day.  The students see me eat between classes, but I'm eating a piece of fruit, nuts, or granola. I urge anyone reading this discussion to promote better eating habits and be a model for our youth.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Drinks in closed containers only. Please do NOT allow your students to bring food into the classroom. I teach night classes, and really hate walking in to a classroom that stinks of rotting food. Even if you "clean up" by tossing food in trash can, it still stinks by the evening.

Given the potential for food allergies, the possible mess, attracting insects and rodents, smells potentially distasteful to other students, issues with cultural and religious sensitivities, there are too many negatives.

Even in a 3-hour class, there is no excuse for allowing food -- no one ever starved to death by refraining from eating for 3 hours. And -- part of growing up is learning delayed gratification. I doubt it would hurts students' characters to engage in the self-discipline of going without stuffing their faces for a few hours and concentrating on class work.


booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because my students often have so many majors that they had no lunch, I allow them to eat in class. There are a few rules. They must bring their food with them: they cannot leave class to buy lunch and come back. They must eat quietly—chips and the bags they come in are not a favorite while trying to keep the noise down in class. There cannot be the passing of food back and forth. They absolutely have to leave their desk and the floor around them clear of any sign of food. I have no wish to cause the custodians any extra work. I do not question students who eat or drink in class—do they have a science lab that day or not; beside the fact that it is necessary for some kids, it keeps others awake.

As long as there is no mess and no disruption to those around them, I let my students eat and drink in class.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

High school students certainly deal with the food and drink aspects better than middle schoolers, who often leave monumental messes behind. I have had several custodians complain about the wrappers, crumbs, etc., that have been left after class. I generally don't allow eating in the classroom, especially if it's around computers. I recently took college classes where food and drink were absolutely forbidden in the classroom, so if college students can handle an hour or so of not eating or drinking, high school and middle school students should also be expected to comply. Breaks between classes and lunch time is best for eating at school. Students will complain about not having time for breakfast or hating school lunches, but the absence of food and drink make for a better learning atmosphere in class, IMO.

historyteacher63 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've always allowed food and drink in my high school classes. They cannot eat when I am presenting instruction but can have food when I'm taking attendance or they are working independently. It started when I had some freshmen boys who were constantly hungry and could not focus. It has to be a quiet snack (no rustling chip bags etc) and you can't bring a full meal. If someone is disruptive or messy, the entire class will lose the privilege. I find that few students actually bring more than a water bottle. Those that need a snack eat it between the time they arrive and when the bell rings to start class most of the time. It's a good compromise. Students feel like they can meet their needs but it's done in a way that doesn't detract from learning.

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My district has a standard policy that food/drink are not to be consumed in the classroom. The problem has not so much been distraction as that students tend to leave a mess, or spill drinks on the floor, etc. Personally, I tend to agree with your policy; kids can actually learn some degree of responsibility if a teacher invests them with some degree of trust. That trust can be as simple as stating that the student may consume snacks in class as long as he does so quietly and keeps his personal area clean. I previously worked in another district where this was allowed, and there was no problem. I have to wonder though, what about kids who drink too much and then need to leave class to use the restroom? Is that a valid consideration?

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have taught in both the Northeast and the Southeast in both public and parochial high schools, and I've never experienced a situation when I was allowed to choose the food policy for my classroom.  All the schools in my experience had a strict "no food or drink" policy.  (Oh, I recall a LOT of Starbucks cups in the trash the day of my exam, though!  Ha!)  My high school and college had the same policy.

That being said, I don't think I'd have a problem with food/drink, if allowed.  Further, I wonder if this is another indicator that society in general is getting more permissive about student behaviors.  Hmmm.  An interesting topic for a future discussion question!

ms-einstein eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've worked in two districts where vodka was concealed in clear water bottles and conusumed by students. One was a solid middle-income 7-12 district. The other was a middle school in an inner-city. After the seventh-grader was caught drinking with her friends in class, her mother hit her in front of the principal and said she purchased the liquor only for the girl's consumption at home.

Now I work in a K-8 building where food allergies are prevalent.

I think common sense must be applied in the school where you work. In the alternative, you must comply with the rules and hope they are sane.

pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I allow food and drink in my classroom.  I teach junior and senior English and I work to teach my students to be responsible.  They know that eating in class is a privilege, so they monitor one another to throw away trash and pick up after each other.  The English department also has 3rd lunch.  Since we don't eat until 1:30, the students are starving.  I found that if I allow students to snack during class, they are more likely to be focused and complain less about their stomachs growling.  In nine years of teaching, I’ve only had one class abuse, and then lose, the privilege.


clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm also a big proponent of NO FOOD and nothing but water.  And I eat in front of my students completely guilt-free.  I like to tell them that one day, when they graduate from highschool AND college, they, like me, can eat food in front of students whenever they want.

Another benefit to tight rules (like this) is that it makes rewarding students so much easier.  I have "Book Talks" every 6 weeks (independent reading projects) and allow students to bring food/drinks to share on these days.  They love it and look forward to it.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with your policy.  I teach high school and I think that it makes more sense to let them eat and drink as long as it's not anything too elaborate.  I mean, if they're eating something hot from home that smells up the whole room, that's too much.  But I do let people eat and drink.  I just think that it's more annoying than it's worth to treat them like babies.  Yeah, things will get spilled now and then, but it's life.  I think it encourages the students to feel more positive towards the school environment.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I hate spending time on the rinky dink rules, especially as I have AP classes and seniors, but when I don't have a no food policy, it seems to rather quickly turn into a smorgasbord where kids bring entire breakfasts and lattes.  So I allow water, but everything else has to be left on the back counter until the end of class or tossed.  I've been known to take food from kids and eat it myself, but that's just one of the perks of teaching.

jarumi344 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Our school policy forbids food and drink the classroom.  Students generally follow this rule, but try to sneak some snacks from their bags during the period before lunch.  Since I usually have a snack between class periods, I understand their (hunger) pain, but I enforce the school policy.  I do look the other way if a student is finishing a snack in the hallway.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I let them as long as they share with me! No, generally I don't have a problem with it. I think my school has a policy against gum chewing in school, but as long as it is not a massive distraction it is OK. I don't actually encourage it, but I don't mind it either. I will of course allow special birthday cakes, especially if it is homebaking!

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I allow food and drinks in the classroom. I feel that if I do it, which I always have a diet cola on my desk, then I cannot tell my students that they cannot. But, if they do not clean up or spill, privileges are revoked.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I allow water bottles.  My school does not have air conditioning.

creativethinker | Student

One aspect of this issue that has been ignored here is the affect of food (or lack thereof) on the brain and learning. What is your purpose of allowing food?   Are you allowing food because the students are hungry, thirsty, bored, unfocused,  sleepy, hyper?  The answer to this may determine what, when, why and how food may be allowed, even encouraged in your classroom. Brain cells need oxygen and glucose.  Because the brain uses up these fuels quickly, they must be replaced to keep the neurons functioning well.  Children need a refill of glucose every 60 to 90 minutes because low glucose levels can cause cognitive performance to suffer. Students, many of whom do not eat breakfast, need fruit + protein + calcium + whole grain just to get started. Water is a human necessity. Yet teachers struggle with water and bathroom breaks causing class disruptions. But a mere 2% dehydration can cause lethargy, out-of-focus thinking, and poor short term memory.

If the objective is to increase learning and attention, the issue of food and available water in the classroom is moot.  If your school has a policy of no food in the classroom, you can probably get that changed by presenting the scientific facts about nutrition and the brain.  Students also need to know these reasons in order to improve their own snack choices.

With this knowledge you can structure the perameters about food in your classroom and educate students (and administrators) on brainbased learning.



swimmy-megan | Student

students work better when they arent starving or thirsty ! so food and drink is a must have in the class room dudes  :)

sciencesolve | Student

I don't see a problem to let the students to eat or drink in my classes because hunger and thirst are natural needs. Of course, they have to keep the place clean and they have to avoid constant noisy wrapping sounds made by plastic packs or carbonated beverages.

crystaltu001 | Student

Maybe you should allow the students to drink water only and it has to be in a container or bottle. No juice or soda or anything else. The food, well, maybe that shouldn't be allowed except for on special circumstances, like if the student didn't have any food at breakfast because they were running short on time or if they deserved a break or reward.

udonbutterfly | Student

I think having snakes in classis a great idea. Being a student myself I can attest that I feel a lot better having something on my stomach before I'm ready to learn and sometimes I just do not have the time to eat in morning especially if I pulled an all nighter studying. However I do think there should be a restriction to what can be deemed a snack. Some kids will bring in tuna sandwiches or real food cut down in snack size like pizza bites that will make the entire room smell and distract everyone. Yeah that's a bit of a no no.

arrellbelle | Student

The appetite of many children are different. Some kids get hungry at a certain time, others do not. It's fine if it is odorless or soundless. Water is definitely fine because everyone needs to re-hydrate during the day, especially those who workout need to maintain water in their systems. In college, it should be fine to eat foods you want as long as you do not disturb others or cause a commotion.

culpa88 | Student

I don't mostly allow a drink in class,especially sweet and snack.The smell of them is annoying in learning.The other students don't pay attention and begin hungry.

achuah111 | Student

My students often complain about being really hungry and thirsty in class. Generally, water bottles are fine but the most important purpose of education is to actually teach kids something. I guarentee they don't listen much if they're hungry. Perhaps just setting rules and trusting the student (personally) that he does not make a mess etc. To optimise the focus of the education.
College Maths Teacher
High-School Science
teaching tea benefits to disadvantaged
students this session.

oursmartweb | Student

I think it's crazy that kids cannot eat in the classroom. I think they need to have a change to earn certain priviledges and if they break those, then they need to have them taken. It all depends on what the severitry of the issue is, taking diciplinary action accordingly. I don't think that the populous should be punished for one persons mistake.

<a href="">Josh McCoy</a>

id437522324 | Student

I think water is the only food or drink that should be consumed in a classroom, as it is a vital fluid, and there are breaks that in which food can be consumed in.

matthaze95 | Student

I am a student in high school, and if you ask me, food should be allowed, but no drink other than water. Food cant make much of a mess, and students should have to clean up after themselves.

sudhirjangra | Student

No it`s a wrong way to study in class ...


kalidos | Student

I remember my teacher allowing food inside the classroom when I was a 10th grader and the students loved him. But we only eat food when most of my classmates passed her tests or assignments. If there are up to 5 students who failed her tests then we don't get to eat food inside the classroom. We also close the classroom door when we are eating food while having class discussions.



Local Marketing

katiepecbvda | Student

I think drinks should definately be allowed in the classroom. I know personally I am dehydrated all the time and need to drink water basically all the time. I feel all students shouldn't have to be thirsty. Food is a different thing. People can eat during meal times. I think this should be at the teacher's discresion.



Beats For Sale

joeham | Student

I'm not a teacher but a student and I want to add my two cents to this discussion.

I personally always ate in my college classes that were on dinner or supper time. I didn't think it would bother anybody and it would save me a lot of time.

Until I had a classmate who did the exact same thing and it was so frustrating.

First, eating makes noise and it disturbs not only the person that eats but the others as well. Also, the smell can do the exact same thing.

And you can't really concentrate on a course while eating, I find the less I do things, the more I understand.

If I was a techer I would not allow food, it's not the same for drink.


Procrastination Help resources

joeham | Student

I'm not a teacher but a student and I want to add my two cents to this discussion.

I personally always ate in my college classes that were on dinner or supper time. I didn't think it would bother anybody and it would save me a lot of time.

Until I had a classmate who did the exact same thing and it was so frustrating.

First, eating makes noise and it disturbs not only the person that eats but the others as well. Also, the smell can do the exact same thing.

And you can't really concentrate on a course while eating, I find the less I do things, the more I understand.

If I was a techer I would not allow food, it's not the same for drink.


[url=]Procrastination Help[/url]

annacarlsson | Student

My teachers allow us to eat and drink in the classrooms. I think this works fine, but in some rooms we are not allowed to eat and drink, mostly in the computer rooms.


Studying to become developer of business software.

jandryx | Student

Eating snack only in class but not a heavy meal will make the students like the teacher more and they will have a closer friendly relationship that will make learning more exciting.



Referral Marketing

slaomo | Student

As a student I have been on both sides of this issue.  I have had years where our lunch was scheduled at 10:15 am due to overcrowding.  Come afternoon it is difficult to concentrate with a growling stomach.  It should be enforced that you lose the priviledges if you make a mess.  I do however disagree with the comment that you only earn the priviledge when you graduate from college. That teacher lost my respect!_____________________________________________

ionautic | Student

There was a restaurant business seminary that I went to and they taught us about some advantages of eating food while doing or listening to something. I think allowing food inside the classroom while having class is okay as long as the students are absorbing what the teacher is saying. Food makes people comfortable if they are hungry or sometimes stressed and I think this will help them to be more attentive.

oursmartweb | Student
Food and drink in the classroom

What is your policy on food and/or drink in the classroom? I generally allow it as long as it doesn't create a distraction or a mess. I find that students comply readily, and it saves so much time and hassle not having to chase it down as a disciplinary infraction. I also think the kids (I teach high school) pay attention better when they aren't starving.

I personally think that you should be able to charge students a dollar for each mess that they make. I think that this would enable them to be responsible and self sufficent.

<a href="" style="font-size: 11px;" target="_self">oursmartweb</a>

justaquestion | Student

A student's Point of View:

I am a university student now and in university it isn't that much of a need to drink or eat in class like it was in school, for example in university we get to chose our breaks and our own lunch time so for me i have enough breaks to eat in. But when i was in school i used to eat all the time because i felt that it was something forbidden to do, or because it was fun to tease the teachers. i once had a teacher who had no problem with us eating or drinking in class and that got all the students to like her and respect her more. I don't think it should be banned in schools during classes but I agree with the gum part... it is just direspectful!

meganp0504 | Student

I think that student should have foods and drinks just as long as its not messy and if they clean up their mess after... i also believe it is ok to have any drink that will not stain the carpets....And food does keep us awake

kychong7 | Student

I personally think it is inappropriate to have food and drinks in the classroom. I just feel that it will be a distraction from the real purpose which is learning. In my opinion, canteen and classroom time should be separate.

"The Newest Kindle Fire":

xlaurenbx | Student

There is only water allowed to be drunk in the classroom no other drinks and certainly no food. This gives the pupils the opportunity to have a drink or not it is entirely their choice so it is up to them but they are only allowed to drink water. This has proved to be good as the students are more willing to participate in class and are more interested in their lessons.

pengun2012 | Student

As a student, i think there is an extent to which food and drinks should be allowed. Water bottles should definitely be allowed. Hydration is important for learning and living and water keeps people awake during class. Foods that have noisy wrappers or smell strongly are things that should be avoided

kay313 | Student

My school only allows it in the morning for breakfast, but other than that no because students will leave the classroom a mess, and it is a distraction. I think that students can wait till lunch to eat; class time is for learning.

m00021 | Student

In my class, in a strict boarding school in UK, we are not allowed to eat or drink in lessons, apart from water. However, often teachers gorge on food during the lessons if we are working which isnt very nice :( A very good compromise is this (my teacher does this) -if a student is eating sweets for example, he may eat them quietly and subtly as long as he gives one to the teacher! Generally this is not a problem as students are very unlikely to turn up with a sandwich or proper food! 

riot174 | Student

i think water should be allowed! in a bottle that has a top! ive had tons of friends spill soft drinks in class..once on all my notes! ughh. but like my 3rd block teacher on A days lets us have a snack cuz we have 4th lunch...and so thats always nice. but like snacks all the time no...

johnamichi9 | Student

I only allow water and small snacks in the classroom. Sometimes a snack becomes a distraction because others want some. So, I allow snacks if they do not share

koko2012 | Student

I go to a highschool that is talented for the arts and enable to have more students some here we have 7th and 8th grade students that come here. So most of the rules that I seen in the halls of my school is not eatting or drinking. It mostly pertains to them because they are in the age of learning how to be more clean and responsable. Now I'm not saying that highschool teachers don't have some of those rules because they do. But as long as we get premission from them and they believe that we are young adults that now how to clean up after ourselfs, then we are then allowed to have drinks and food in the classroom.

caroleondovic | Student

I let the kids have water bottles when it is hot out (no a/c).  Otherwise, if they want a drink, the class is self-moderated: one person out at a time to the water fountain.  I've been doing this for years, and have never had a stampede.  I teach middle school and the kids like the responsibility.  Most kids don't get up to get a drink, and this gives the ADHD kids a break.  Again, the self-regulation really lends to confidence. I generally don't allow food, because of the mess, but will allow a snack - granola bar, apple - something simple and easy.  Garbage left behind has consequences.  In-room parties are another discussion - then we discuss the ettiquette before grabbing it all.

salimj | Student

I personally don't allow food and drink in my class room. I am of the opinion that not only the subject that we teach the students they should also develop a sense of discipline. Class is a place where we have to concentrate on teaching . On the other hand if they have a very tasty snacks with them the concentration will be on these snacks.

valie77 | Student

i think stundents (like myself) should be alowed to drink water but not eat food or drink sugar drinks =)

evelynguy3 | Student

I totally agree with thatsmsdragon. I love to allow eating in the classroom, if the school allows it. If it is not allowed, I find every occasion I can to have a "party" or some reward. I have never gotten in trouble for my approach. I, too, find my students more cooperative and attentive. Again, they have to be mature enough to handle the responsibility without distraction or messes. If so, privilege is revoked.

I do not sit down to do any work without having a snack and a diet coke handy. Hopefully, I will learn to choose healthy snacks. I work better with food and drink, and I think students do.

I do stress to my students that we have to follow admin rules. i will not allow them to go against rules, even though I hear, "Mr. xxx lets us."  I tell them that I always try to follow my superior's instructions, and the admin is my superior.

thatsmsdragon | Student

I have found that I have fewer discipline problems when I allow food/ drink in the classroom as a rule and taken it away as a consequence if a certain set of students couldn't handle it. So, if second period ends up having spills, trash, socializing about food, I write on the board that second block can't have food/ drinks until a specific date. I ask each period to note if I have missed any messes when they enter so that I can blame the right group of people. If the class is self-monitoring to ensure they get to keep the privelege, it works pretty well.  But then again, I tend to have a very collaborative classroom style in general.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question