Food in the Classroom

I’m normally a very laid back kind of teacher but there is one thing students do that really annoys me. I try not to show it but it bugs me like I can’t tell you when students eat in the classroom.

I understand that sometimes people have no time to eat between classes, but it is very disruptive and plain annoying to see people use the classroom to have a meal.

For one, we have very small desks that are attached to the chairs. When one spreads an entire meal on the small desk, there is no space left for papers and textbooks. This means that every class related object goes on the floor, Then, I have to jump over piles of books and dictionaries that lie on the floor as I walk around the classroom.

At the same time, you have to remember that I teach Spanish. This means that students have to speak a lot during class. It is very annoying to see a whole group of students sit there in silence, waiting for a conversation partner to bite, chew, and swallow before she can respond to what is being said.

Of course, it also annoys me that I have to stand there uselessly while a student chews when I have 25 people in the classroom and I need to approach every one of them during a class meeting at least three times (that’s the absolute minimum).

And then there is the issue of extraneous smells that mix and make the air in the classroom really disgusting. The classrooms are very stuffy right now because it is hot outside and we still haven’t started the air-conditioning season. It’s one thing when one eats a small piece of chocolate, but there are people who come to class with bowls of soup, pizza slices, and even fried turkey legs.


11 thoughts on “Food in the Classroom”

  1. Because of my teaching hours, nobody has a full meal in my class. But I hate it when they bring chips or things like that. Not for the chewing in itself, but for the noise the wrapping always does. I am very sensitive to noise and it distracts me a lot.


    1. We’ve had pizza delivered in evening classes but only when everybody consented. 🙂

      We also once had an evening course with a prof from Spain who said that he refused to teach history of Spanish with no alcohol. “I’ll bring wine,” he said, “and drink it while teaching. And you can join me or not.” That was a FUN class.


  2. For a heavily discussion based class like Spanish, it’s really inappropriate to eat. In my classes, I tell the students that if they really MUST bring something, it has to be quiet food — nothing that crunches or has noisy wrappers. That’s too distracting.

    I’d really prefer no food, but I teach at lunch time, so sometimes people bring a little something.


  3. I ask people to refrain from eating, but I do not mind if they drink something. I have had students who were type I diabetic and needed to be able to eat something quickly. I do not see any point in making such a student step outside, although the official university policy here is “No food or drink in classrooms.”


  4. I’m the type of person who must consume food every 2-3 hours else I get lightheaded and stop being able to function. Thus, I have perfected the “small bag of tiny bite-sized (or smaller) pretzels/goldfish/other food that can be quietly sucked on during a lecture class without making chewing noises” thing (and I’ve perfected the “ziplock bag open and positioned in the jacket pocket so as to not make any noise when accessing it” thing too). I often have classes back to back (5-8 hours of classes on my worst days, with only 10 minutes between each one). I never eat during discussion based classes unless there’s a long (5+ minute) pause where I can be assured that whatever food will be swallowed completely before I might need to talk again, and I would NEVER eat a whole meal, as that is completely inappropriate and the smell of other peoples’ meals bugs me, so I wouldn’t want to inflict that on someone else.

    But this whole ramble was mostly from a student’s point of view – when I’ve TA’d, I find people eating whole meals or very explicitly (food out on desks) to be distracting. But I have no problem with small-scale snacking, unless you’re in a lab. If we’re in a lab, then absolutely NO snacking – it’s a safety hazard!

    p.s. That professor who brings wine to class sounds like he lead a very awesome class. I don’t drink myself, but it is definitely an amusing prospect. In my field, we go out on field trips, and will all drink around campfires at night. Then the science-themed songs happen…


  5. You know, I could have sworn that food was not allowed in classrooms anywhere unless it was a special pre-arranged occasion like a class party. Otherwise kids just weren’t allowed to eat in class because… no, just no! I do understand college is different but when I was going to college I can’t remember anyone eating in class. Drinking yes — soda and water and so on. But I’m almost sure eating was prohibited (again, unless it was some sort of special occasion that was arranged ahead of time).

    Or else I just imagined the whole thing.


  6. I wouldn’t have managed to get through school without my trusty thermos of fresh-ground strong coffee. …..
    For whatever reason, medical student class parties seem to be funded by early morning sales of Krispy Kreme donuts. I am cool with this, as long as they settle at the lecture start. Needless to say, I STILL have my caffeinated hot drink available during lecture, in case of dry mouth. I pass on the KKs.


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