Students at East St. Louis High School are no longer allowed to bring outside snacks into the school after a “banned substance” was brought onto campus through a snack on Tuesday.
Officials would not say what the substance or snack was.
“This action has been taken to ensure the safety and health of the overall student body,” the school said in a prepared statement.
Families were given details of the guidelines Wednesday. If snacks are discovered as students go through security, the students are given option of returning outside to consume the items or turning the food in to be claimed at the end of the day.
The items are kept in a locked security office and labeled with the student’s name, school district spokeswoman Sydney Stigge-Kaufman said.
Most of the items confiscated so far include chips, candy, snack cakes and soda, Stigge-Kaufman said. Lunches – such as dinner leftovers – will be allowed after inspection.
Stigge-Kaufman said that because 96 percent of students in the district are low-income, all students are provided a healthy breakfast and lunch at no charge through the federal Community Eligibility Provision program. Most students do not bring their lunches, she said.
Students with special dietary or medical needs can meet with the school nurse to ensure they have access to items they may need to bring in, she added.
While schools have reported enacting policies banning homemade snacks for class parties and events because of concerns for students with allergies, store-bought items with a list of ingredients usually get the OK.
About six years ago, some Chicago public schools made waves when they banned homemade lunches because the lunches students were bringing were not healthy.
Stigge-Kaufman said East St. Louis High School officials were concerned that even store-bought snacks might be tampered with, particularly if students opened them before entering the building. A ban on all snacks also makes the inspections easier, she said.
“We have over 1,200 students, and there are checkpoints they have to go through for other safety reasons,” she said. “If security has to decide if this snack vs. that snack is allowed, it just becomes too much. This just expedites the process.”