|Pittsfield School Policy Panel Considers Student DoorDash Ban
|By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
12:29PM / Tuesday, March 07, 2023
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The district is looking into placing sanctions on food deliveries for students.
Last week, the Policy Subcommittee started a discussion on revising policy COM-31 Visitors to Schools to address non-teacher orders placed online or on the phone and delivered through apps such as DoorDash.
Superintendent Joseph Curtis proposed some reorganization of the policy for clarity and the addition of language stating that service delivery drivers are not permitted on school grounds or inside of schools to fulfill students' orders.
"My intention this evening was just to start a dialogue with the subcommittee in response to the discussion about food deliveries for students at schools," he said.
The issue was brought up during a Taconic High School council meeting in January and relayed to the School Committee by member Daniel Elias soon after. He reported that the council felt it should be a districtwide discussion because it was also happening in other schools.
Curtis said the discussion could come from a security standpoint, which COM-31 deals with, or a wellness standpoint.
"We do have a wellness policy and there could certainly be language inserted in that policy that I didn't bring forth this evening," he said.
School Committee Chair William Cameron thinks that the ban should fall under wellness.
"First of all, because it would have been voted on affirmatively by the School Committee rather than simply accepted as an administrative regulation and also because it's an issue unto itself really," he explained.
"I mean, incidentally, it has to do with visitors to schools but in fact, it's a whole separate set of issues, I think, so it probably ought to be featured either in a policy of its own or as part of the wellness policy, I think, an amendment to that."
Superintendent for Business and Finance Kristen Behnke explained that they have to be cautious of a non-compete policy under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's federal regulations. If a district accepts federal money for a school lunch and breakfast program, it cannot compete with the USDA policy.
"I think it's not bad to have it here because it's the stranger coming to the door that we're worried about," Committee member Sara Hathaway said.
She pointed out that "food service delivery" might hinder cafeteria food deliveries and said they may need a better definition.
"What we're concerned about is commercial vendors," Cameron said, wondering if the term could be worked into the definition.
Curtis explained that the food will sometimes not arrive when students anticipate and they will ask to leave class and go downstairs to eat, which is an issue on its own.
He will make some language changes to the proposed addition to the policy for consideration and said that the subcommittee can also explore added language to the wellness policy.
Hathaway asked about pizza party rewards and Curtis said food rewards are not allowed in the policy, though they may slip through sometimes.
When Elias reported the initial conversation to the full committee, he said Principal Matthew Bishop has been eating in the cafeteria to see where improvements could be made and is working with the culinary program to meet some of those needs.
The school had also moved the food delivery table outside of the actual facility and into the entranceway.