In the past, ASR has organized Diversity Week to promote the wide variety of Roosevelt clubs and student associations, including Chinese Cultural Club, Black Student Union, DECA, French Club, Gender-Sexuality Alliance, and several more. It has been most often characterized by the lunchtime activity in which each club sells a distinctive type of food that theoretically represents an important part of the club or its cultural affiliation. This event is widely popular at Roosevelt, as club students get an informal chance to garner support for their cause through sales and also potentially gain members through the international conversation-facilitator of food. Part of the reason that the event was so successful is that it takes place during school hours, more specifically during both lunches when students are open to different kinds of food as opposed to what they might have brought from home or what is being offered in the cafeteria. Say goodbye to that.
This year, Diversity Week activities involving the selling and buying of food have been condensed to “Diversity Night”, and will still take place in the upper and lower commons but will be held on a school night rather than during the school day. Come Diversity Week students will not be able to find Chinese Club’s chow mein or Deca’s hot dogs until after school. If Students are looking for someone to blame for this inconvenience, according to ASR Junior Officer Nora Oyama, “you can blame Michelle Obama.” And she’s right.
As a part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Health Initiative Program, which launched in early 2010, all American primary and secondary schools have been instructed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to significantly improve their food’s nutritional value, proportions, standards, and availability to their students. More specifically, school lunches provided by the government must include more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as low-fat dairy milk products, and will contain less sodium and fat. There is also a heavy emphasis on the preferred portions for these meals. In return, “schools will be reimbursed 6 cents for each lunch they serve in accordance with the new standards,” according to Let’s Move!’s “Healthy Schools” mission statement. Roosevelt, as one can assume, has decided to enforce these rules in its breakfast and lunch programs. In turn, the overall consumption of any kind of school-provided food throughout Roosevelt, which includes what is sold during Diversity Week and what was formerly sold by ASR for fundraising events, has been significantly restricted.
Instead of limiting the clubs to the same nutritional standard, which most wouldn’t reasonably be able to meet with the food that they have chosen to provide, ASR has found a loophole. It has decided to push back the food-selling event, as the Let’s Move! regulations only apply to food being sold during school hours. However, this fix may not be entirely beneficial.
Junior Inga Phelgar, president of Eastern European Club, is concerned that selling food outside of school hours will dissuade the clubs’ targets: students. “I personally don’t understand who’s going to want to buy the food besides the students. It’s now being advertised to the greater Roosevelt community, but who else is going to want to come to a school to eat food?” However, she admits that having the event later in the day and having it be condensed to one night lessens the stress put on club members who would otherwise have to prepare their food at school every day for an entire week. With Diversity Night, club members are only responsible for one night of food preparation, which can be done conveniently at home. “Last year, all the clubs had to use the same school facility to make all the food for the week. So it’s a lot easier this way in terms of logistics.”
When asked about the situation, Senior and ASR Club Advisor Sergio Martinez noted, “There are pro’s and con’s. On one hand, selling food later means that parents and even students’ younger siblings or family are more likely to come buy food because it’s not in the middle of the day.” An after school event does allow for a wider audience of consumers that is likely unavailable during the day though free on weeknights. “But it also makes it harder for students because if they know that they’ll just have to return to school later… then they probably won’t think it’s worth it to go at all. The thing about it being during the day was that the food was readily available and you could eat with your friends and then go back to class with your food. That element is removed because of this.”
Whether or not we have Michelle to blame, students are encouraged to continue participating in this Diversity Week event despite its rescheduling. Every Roosevelt student is either a member of a club or has a friend who is, and it is our collective responsibility to help keep these clubs alive for the sake of combating cultural adversity and ensuring that every student has a home at school somewhere. “Diversity Week is very important to Roosevelt,” Oyama notes. “It shows that there is something special about each student beyond what you might think from seeing them in the halls or in a classroom.”
Featured Photo: In addition to diversity week snacks, vending machines have been forced to conform to the new health regulations. Photo by Conor Courtney