No more ‘free’ lunch


Students find options Calvin Hooker, a Media Academy sophomore, buys his lunch from a truck vendor through the Ygnacio Street gate. Oakland Unified School District decided to keep Fremont Federation of High Schools closed at lunch – much to the dismay of students.

Karla Coronel, a sophomore at Mandela Academy stood in line for 32 out of the 55 minutes of lunch to receive her pizza and chips.

“I feel like it’s a waste of my time that I could have been eating,” she said.

Coronel is one of hundreds who are angry about having a closed campus.

The school board voted to close Fremont Federation at lunch and students found out when they returned to school in late August.

With students no longer given the option to go off campus during lunch, the number of students who turn to the cafeteria for lunch has climbed from 250 last year to 430.

Other students obtain their lunch from foods trucks or a food stand outside the fence of the school.

Although the number of students who get their lunch in the cafeteria has gone up, a survey done by the Green and Gold staff shows that, as many as half of the students go without eating anything.

Lawana Wyatt, the cafeteria manager says that there have been some challenges, but the nine lines for students to get their lunch work pretty well.

“I also try to make the food taste good,” said Wyatt.

Despite the efforts by the cafeteria staff to make lunch run smoothly, students feel unhappy about the situation.

”Closed campus lunch sucks because it’s treating us like prisoners and the wait for lunch is longer,” said Leiana Pahulu, a senior at College Preparatory Architecture Academy.

Katie Riemer, the health educator at the Tiger Clinic, feels that having a closed campus will make a big difference for some students.

Riemer said her wellness committee thought last year that closing campus for lunch would be better for student health, but that getting the school to agree to closing campus would be “totally impossible.”

Media Academy Principal Benjamin Schmookler said the principals had no say in the closure and that the district officials said they felt that having a closed campus will make the school safer.

Security officers see it differently.

“It’s been a lot busier in the cafeteria, and we’ve picked up a few fights since closed campus,” said security officer Tiffany Couch.

Overall, though, Couch says students are safer than if they went off campus for lunch.

One definite positive teachers are noticing this year is that they have fewer students late or absent in the periods after lunch.

“My fifth and sixth period classes [are] fuller than they used to be,” said Sonja Totten-Harris, an English teacher at Media Academy. “There are definitely more students in fifth period, who are coming back after lunch, and are getting their education.”