The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The Parker Food Tactic

Is it Helping or Hindering?
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

Throughout my high school career, having food at club meetings has been an excellent way to find members and create new groups. As I’ve immersed myself in the club culture at Parker, I’ve noticed that the use of food to encourage engagement has only increased.

Food is one of the greatest tactics to encourage engagement from the student body. From weekly Senate food announcements to occasional Baking Club meetings, most students at Parker have been influenced to attend a meeting because of food. While that isn’t always the main reason, food has an impact on engagement. 

Everyday I receive at least five emails from clubs to my already-flooded account. With Gmails’ newish technology, allowing the texts of emails to appear in different colors and fonts, it’s become an art to create the most eye-catching email possible. You would think that the time, purpose, and location of the club would be bolded, as it is the most important information. However, the food that will be served at the meeting is always highlighted in bright pink and followed with emojis, drawing the students attention to what will likely get them to attend. 

Sometimes it’s getting a Dairy Queen cake or something unfamiliar to our usual eats that lures students to club meetings. Other times it’s fast food such as ordering McDonald’s or Panda Express that appeals to the students when they are over their healthy and homemade meals from the cafeteria. No matter what meal it is, food will always win the hearts of the students, and I’ve experienced the benefits and drawbacks of food in clubs and student organizations over the years. 

This year as a committee head I’ve run two committee meetings. At one we had Dunkin’ Donuts and at the other we had no food. While committee meetings are mandatory, I noticed that our first meeting with the dozen donuts was much more productive than our second. I think this is because the students felt cared about and wanted to engage in return for the donuts. Maybe it was just the small sugar rush that made our members more talkative and opinionated. Whatever it was, having food at our meeting definitely helped. 

I’ve also been on the other side as a club member, feeling ecstatic, knowing food would be present at a meeting. Having food feels celebratory and special, despite it being McNuggets from our local McDonald’s. Whatever food it may be, it uplifts members and brings new students into the group. While I make an argument that having food makes students participate more and leads to success, it also can be a distraction.

For example: Senate. While most students, including me, enjoy the senate with a side of food, many students seem to take advantage of it. Students will come to the Harris Center, grab some food, sit down for a minute, and then get up and leave once they’ve finished eating. This means that food is going to students who don’t care for the organization and just “steal,” which I find to be sad and a waste of our amazing budget.

On a larger scale, big events like Democrafest and Involvement Fair which are designed to get students to learn about clubs and committees don’t always reach their full potential because of the insane selection of cookies and candies at each table. Don’t get me wrong, these two events are my favorite of the year. The fairs are lively, the weather can be amazing, and they demonstrate my favorite part about Parker: student organizations. 

At these events, one thing I always look for is which student organization has the best table of food, as it is a great way of expressing a group. For example, SCOUT recently has only used Pink candies to fit its theme. Running for the Food Council last year, I used the colors of my campaign to make homemade treats for all dietary restrictions to demonstrate my commitment to the position and also my goals of inclusivity.  

Maybe it’s just me as someone who finds true meaning and memory behind food, but I love when other people are thoughtful about their booth’s snacks. Yet, all of this thought and consideration is taken advantage of by students who secretly pocket pink Starbursts from the SCOUT table without learning about their wonderful magazine.

Food is one of the greatest gifts but also a distraction to our student body. It excites students, helps to bring us together, and is celebratory. At the same time, it can take away from the purpose of a club meeting or an event. I’m hoping that as a student body we can look at food in clubs in a more meaningful way, recognizing when clubs use their budget intelligently  but also creatively, and respecting each other’s clubs and passions.

As the spring begins, I’m excited to see how student organizations continue to use food as a tactic for engagement and how they might get creative as events like Democrafest approach us. When that festivity comes, I’ll be ready with some creative snacks of my own and also travel to other organizations and groups to celebrate them and listen to them with a unique snack on the side.

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