Removal of cafeteria essentials “last straw” for some Mountaineers

Many Mountaineers enjoy a carton of chocolate milk with lunch. They typically drink it through a straw, but this year, these could not be found in the cafeteria.
“It [not having straws] doesn’t bother me much,” said senior Kaelen Linke. “Whenever there’s fruit punch or milk, I usually drink it without a straw.”
Senior Molly Gerow agreed.
“I think having straws here would be a big waste of money and resources,” Gerow said. “We don’t need them because you can drink whatever they provide without a straw.”
Many teachers agreed.
“[Not having straws] doesn’t bother me at all,” said history teacher Tess Hickey, who serves as a lunch monitor. “There’s less for me to clean up; kids just leave stuff everywhere.”
The cafeteria’s staff also did not notice a lot of opposition to the lack of straws available.
“I haven’t heard too much about it,” said head food service associate Tanya Benoit. “A couple students asked about them. But there wasn’t too much commotion.”
Other students said that, while not having straws did not affect them, they understood how a lack of straws may impact their peers.
“I can see why it [not having straws] would be an issue,” said senior Beau Adams. “We should rally together to get more straws.”
However, others felt that not having straws caused many problems.
“Getting rid of straws is good for the environment, but straws are still necessary,” said junior Juliana Allicon. “Having paper straws would work.”
Junior Chloe Aldous noted the difficulty caused by not having a straw.
“When you go to drink, you get chocolate milk all over you,” said Aldous.
Other students felt worried about the health problems that straws remove.
“When you drink, the container has already been touched,” said freshman Ash Kokoski.
Not having access to straws angered some students.
“It’s upsetting,” said sophomore Amanda Atchue. “Usually with a drink I have a straw, but one day they weren’t there.”
Although some Mountaineers suggested that straws had been taken out of the cafeteria for environmental reasons, the reality seems to be far different.
“We were not able to get straws when manufacturers stopped making them in last year’s supply chain shortages,” said supervisor of school nutrition Margaret Barton, referring to this issue as “strawgate.”
Wachusett Regional School District Food Services’ website provides greater details.
According to the website, “The National School Lunch program is experiencing severe product shortages and delivery delays of our orders through the nationwide supply chain. Many of our suppliers are unable to give us timely estimates on when products will be back in stock.”
Cafeterias across the state are dealing with similar shortages.
“If [other schools] are having the same trouble we’re having, I can’t imagine they’re getting straws on a regular basis,” said Benoit. “It’s a problem at all schools.”