Sag Harbor School Board Members Question No-Food-on-Bus Rule

A school bus in the Sag Harbor School District bus parking lot on January 24, 2018. Christine Sampson photo

By Christine Sampson

To eat or not to eat? That is the question some hungry Sag Harbor student athletes are facing as they board buses to away games that often take them quite far from the village, despite a school district policy prohibiting food on school buses.

“The law of the district is not to have food on buses,” superintendent Katy Graves said during Monday’s school board meeting, after board member Susan Lamontagne broached the issue. The rule is tied to a complaint the district received through the New York State Office of Civil Rights, and included in the district’s Policy Committee’s current review of protocols for medically fragile children.

The policy exists because some foods, such as those containing nuts, may trigger allergic reactions if crumbs or residue are left on buses and children with allergies are exposed to them, Ms. Graves explained.

“This is such a challenge. Allergies are getting much worse,” she said, noting school officials have reached out to other districts to find out how they handle it.

Ms. Lamontagne, who sits on the district’s Wellness Committee, said this group had some suggestions, such as finding “bus-approved snacks” that athletes can eat on the way to games.

However, Ms. Graves said, “I don’t think the Wellness Committee needs to worry about solving that,” because the Policy Committee is on top of it.

Board member Chris Tice alleged students have been breaking the rule by sneaking food onto the buses. She recalled a time several years ago when the school cafeteria would provide to-go boxes with snacks that could be eaten on the buses.

“There weren’t nuts in them,” Ms. Tice said. “This is a problem we need to solve. They’re all eating on the bus.”

Sag Harbor School District athletic director Eric Bramoff could not be reached for comment.