Excessive use of online food-delivery apps by students at a Surrey high school has prompted administrators to ban ordering food during class time.
But while the step isn’t exactly new, district officials say the need for it is somewhat unique to the Semiahmoo Peninsula in South Surrey.
“There has been the odd occasion over the years where a student has ordered a food delivery at a secondary school, but more recently, with online apps that open up options, some schools have seen such deliveries increase or become more regular,” district spokesman Doug Strachan told Peace Arch News Wednesday.
“A few other secondary schools I have asked say there were a few deliveries earlier in the year, but it appears the novelty wore off, and it didn’t become an issue they had to address. It’s possible other secondary schools have had the issue crop-up, but it appears only Semi and Elgin have had an ongoing, growing and more widespread issue that staff had to address in a more systemic way.”
Semiahmoo Secondary vice-principal Debbie Johnson said Wednesday that the reminder – which Strachan confirmed is not a district-wide policy – was most recently delivered to students in early October.
Johnson told PAN that students have been told they can’t leave class to meet a delivery driver for a pickup –but they haven’t been told they can’t use the apps, “as long as the food that they’re ordering arrives before school, or at lunch or after school, and isn’t delivered on school property.”
Apps such as SkipTheDishes, Uber Eats and DoorDash offer on-demand delivery from area restaurants – including Subway, Tim Hortons and Afghan Kitchen – through freelance drivers who receive a small fee per trip.
The orders became an issue at Semi as office staff began to find themselves inundated with “bags and bags” of midday meals on a daily basis, Johnson said, estimating that at the beginning of the school year, there were up to a dozen deliveries a day.
“We were finding that lots of food-delivery companies were coming to the office, and so then it becomes sort of a logistical thing that now gets dumped on the office,” she said. “If the kids weren’t coming to pick it up, then it was sitting in the office.
“We said, we can’t have this happening.”
There is also a concern with having a flow of unknown adults through the school’s doors, she said.
Johnson noted the school does have a cafeteria that offers “lots of choice,” and acknowledged that as more and more apps are developed, students’ choices are expanding.
Choices, however, are not the problem, she said.
“We don’t have a problem with kids having choice. It’s about the disruption that it causes.
“The message is, we want kids in class.”