LINCOLN PARK’S NEW PIZZA POLICY
WHODUNNIT OR WHYDUNNIT?
October 19, 2022
On Sept. 2, 2022, an announcement was sent out for teachers to read regarding a new policy for school lunches. As it turned out, a newly returned lunch item, pizza, would be served later during lunches in order to hinder anyone intending to steal it.
The announcement is as follows: “Starting Tuesday, due to students stealing slices of pizza, pizza will be served last in all lunches. Students who are caught stealing food of any kind will face discipline.”
This policy was put in place by Lincoln Park’s new principal Roylin Petties. “Well the funny thing is I actually came up with [the policy]. I’m 100 percent supportive,” said Mr. Petties.
There’s been a lot of speculation around what lead to this policy being put in place and who was stealing pizza, but students have pointed more of their attention towards why.
“I think students are stealing pizza because government funded lunches only cover one slice of pizza. One slice of pizza is not enough for half the people [at Lincoln Park],” said Tia Schafer, a senior theatre major from Moon Township. Schafer explained different people require different portions. “I wouldn’t expect a six foot tall athlete to eat the same portions as me.”
“People are stealing pizza for two reasons: because it’s easy and the free lunches for all students have been taken away,” wrote Aleya Goode, a senior health science major from Moon Township, via email.
Goode brought up an important explanation as to why students may be stealing slices of pizza. During COVID-19, lunches and breakfasts were free for every student; there was even an option to order an extra one to take home. Currently, no such option exists.
Another student, Xan Grucza, a theatre major from Grove City, pointed a finger towards free lunches as well. “While the stealing of pizza could be tied to greed, I think it’s more to do with the changes of lunch. […] Lunches are overpriced for the means of profit to begin with, and that’s before you account for water bottles that cost a dollar.”
Grucza goes on to explain that she had been personally affected by this change in the past. “I personally was affected by this at my old school when my parents were no longer able to get us free lunch, and we could barely afford to pay for it. Your parents’ salary dictates your ability to get free lunch, but it does not take into account the taxes that will be taken from the income, leaving poor students to do what they have to do to eat, even if that’s steal.”
How exactly did staff realize students were stealing pizza?
Jamie Davis, a food service employee hailing from Midland, gave some necessary background. “[We realized pizza was being stolen] when Phil checks the data after lunches. He goes into his system, and the pizza that was left versus what was sold didn’t match up,” said Davis. She recalled a similar situation from the 2021-2022 school year where people were stealing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so to counter this, the sandwiches were moved in front of the cashiers to deter anyone from stealing.
Student reactions are varied, but when Food Service Director Phil Balestrieri was asked if he had seen any pushback from the student body, he said, “Not really. Now that we’re putting the pizza out later, it’s kind of curved the stealing, but I feel bad for the kids who have to wait to eat the pizza now.”
“I don’t think it’s fair. It’s punishing students who didn’t even steal,” said Schafer.
Schafer continued: “I understand action needs to be taken, but what they are doing is focused on money and not the well-being of their students.”
“I think it’s an appropriate action for the short term. I think there could definitely be improvements to preventing the thefts,” said Goode.
Grucza seemed to sympathize with Schafer. She asked, “Is it just another quick buck for the school, and they don’t want to miss out when it’s stolen?”
However, staff seems to have a different understanding of the situation. Davis pointed out that pizza is a privilege. “Pizza privileges can be lost. I fought to get [pizza] back this year. Taking it away is a last resort,” she said.
“We couldn’t prove it, but we remedied it, and it actually ended up being a better solution. It was born out of something bad, but something good came out of it,” said Mr. Petties.
Mr. Petties went on to explain what that “something good” was. “[This] decision has had a positive reaction, and kids are getting pizza quicker and getting their lunch quicker, which means they have more time in lunch to be social, talk with their friends, things like that.”
Some students didn’t feel the same way. “The kids who are stealing aren’t only hungry, but they also have to rush to eat because they lost 10 minutes of their lunch,” said Schafer.
The Food Service Director also expressed pity for kids having to wait later earlier in this article.
However, there is a common ground between students and staff. Both groups agree everyone should be able to eat at lunch.
“We want everyone to be able to eat lunch. We know it’s hard financially for some students, which is why we encourage you to fill out the free or discounted lunch form in the office,” said Davis.