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.

Asked on by pacorz

54 Answers

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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.

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historyteacher63 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

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.

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ms-einstein | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

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.

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.



jarumi344's profile pic

jarumi344 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

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.

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taylormath | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

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.

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

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.


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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

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!

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

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.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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!

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