My stomach rumbles as I sit at my desk. The craving hits me. In just a few more minutes, it will be brunch, and I can speedily make my way down to food service before all the best fruit selection is taken by other students. I watch the clock as I plan out the fastest route to food service and try to guess which fruits they will offer today.
I imagine the wide crystal bowls, often filled with glinting red and green apples or oranges with leaf stems still attached.
Piedmont has been providing students with free fruit for six years but now the fruit is no longer as accessible as it once was. During lunch and brunch, students must wait in line, an endless sea of hungry teens, if they want access to the fruit that is now tucked away behind the counter. Latecomers, who have to leave for class before they can reach the front of the line, can no longer grab an apple or orange to sustain them for the coming hours of learning. Though the fruit is available during passing periods, for some students, there is simply not enough time to stop by food service without being late for their next class.
Perhaps what we are not noticing is that this fruit bowl withdrawal is a consequence of our own actions. The concern was that students were grabbing fruit and sliding into the front of the lines. It is easy to mock it, or shrug it off as the school being too uptight, but the reality still remains—actions have consequences.
Regardless of whether or not those consequences are justified, this seemingly insignificant fruit situation could indicate an underlying issue. It is easy to forget privilege, especially when no one stops to think about it.
Initially, I did not view the free fruit as a privilege and complained about food service moving the bowls. I had not stopped to think about the reason behind what I saw as a nonsensical inconvenience. I was reminded that the free fruit was first provided to students because the school’s desire to make sure students had quality brainfood throughout the day, and was free for students, but not free for the school. And yet, in the past, if the bowls were left unsupervised, there were issues with students abusing the easy access and using the fruit as toys or excessively leaving them around campus. It wasn’t uncommon to see several bananas strewn and abandoned on empty benches, or an orange that someone tried to throw away but missed, leaving it to roll away into a dark corner. Food service felt that, due to the recent issues with line cuttings in conjunction with past student behaviors, the only solution they were left with was to make students have to wait in line if they want free fruit. Maybe that is a drastic measure because those were issues are not current, but maybe it is also time to remind ourselves that we need to pay attention to the free commodities we are provided with, however small or large.
It is not all about fruit. It’s about being aware of what we are receiving for free everyday, and at the very least, recognizing it. With that recognition also comes knowing that if we are given something good and we decide to abuse it, then we can’t complain when those privileges are taking away.
It is time to make an attitude shift and stop complaining about commodities that we should recognize and be grateful for. Maybe if we accomplish this, the school and food service will eventually realize that we are mature enough to handle the privilege of accessible fruit bowls.