Photo: Susie Liu

There is an issue in Marc Garneau that is so significant to the student body yet so difficult to change that it has been completely overlooked. It is a crime on our part, on all of our parts, as members of this student body, to have accepted the injustice for two years now.

That is why I’m writing to you about chocolate milk.

In my younger days at this school, there was nothing more joyful than opening the snack bin in the morning and finding chocolate milk. And I wasn’t the only one so satisfied. Chocolate milk was the kind of snack that would have no leftovers to be sent back. Everyone loved it.

So what ended the party? Some students threw chocolate milk cartons against the walls, creating messes. An action which can only be described as a “goof”, because really, why would anyone want to throw perfectly good chocolate milk away?

One dark day, it was announced over the PA that chocolate milk would no longer have a place in the snack program. I was heartbroken.

I found myself at the beginning of the following year acting as a young reporter. The Reckoner was in its earliest days and I had given myself the task of doing an interview about the snack program. I wanted to get information out to anyone who was interested: when the snack program would start up again, where the money to support the program came from, things like that. But subconsciously, the real purpose of the interview was to ask if we could ever expect to see chocolate milk again.

I was told that the ban would not be lifted until it was seen that “the food is handled respectfully”.

The time for seeing is now.

I understand that when students do stupid things with food it can be messy. Students have a responsibility to either eat or drink what they find in the snack bin or to leave it for someone else who will. But there is nothing inherent about chocolate milk which makes kids want to throw it at walls.

So why has the administration found it much more of a problem than, say, the likewise delicious and potentially messy rice pudding? It’s not because chocolate milk is thrown around by everyone who picks it up. It’s because everyone loves chocolate milk. You’d be hard pressed to find a student who opens up the snack bin and says “Aww, chocolate milk? Lame.”

Why is this important? It means that when chocolate milk is in the snack bins, more students will pick it up. More students will have it in their hands. More students in between classes, unfortunately, will throw it. And so any truly popular item like chocolate milk will be seen as a problem and removed from our hands, rather than dealing specifically with the students who choose to take away a good thing from the rest of us. And if no item in the snack program can be popular for fear of students creating a mess, then food will be left uneaten, expired, and wasted.

It is true that a snack program with more popular items runs the risk of creating more mess. But it also would be a more successful snack program. It would be a snack program where more students have eaten, and where more students are happier. When that happens, they participate more, they perform better academically, all of which are the purpose of the snack program. And these benefits for the majority should not be taken away by a small minority who cause chocolate chaos.

There is a broader reason why chocolate milk should be returned to the snack bins. The administration told us that it would be returned when they saw it could be handled respectfully. But they will never be able to see that unless chocolate milk is once again a snack option — we can’t handle chocolate milk respectfully if we aren’t allowed to handle it at all.

Any student who creates a mess should be dealt with accordingly. And with great snack comes great responsibility. But we’re in high school. We deserve that kind of responsibility. We as a community should be able to demonstrate that we can have our chocolate milk and drink it, too. And I believe we can. I believe the students of Garneau can collectively reduce or even eliminate the mess caused as a result of chocolate milk or any snack provided. It might be difficult, but we’ll never do it unless we’re given the chance.

I believe in chocolate milk.