Skip the delivery: Surrey School District cracking down on online lunch orders

The Surrey School District has introduced new restrictions to crack down on what has become a growing problem at some secondary schools in the city — and it all revolves around food delivery services.

“We’re seeing students start to take advantage of online apps that give them the opportunity to order food delivery,” Doug Strachan with the Surrey School District told Global News.

“And we’ve had a few schools where it’s become more of a burden for the school to deal with.”

It’s not the off-site food itself that the district has an issue with, but rather the way it was being delivered.

At two secondary schools in particular, Semiahmoo Secondary and Elgin Park Secondary, food delivery services were becoming increasingly common. And a growing distraction for students and faculty — and even a security risk, in some instances.

“When drivers are showing up at reception — if they do show up at reception, sometimes they run right past reception, that’s a security issue,” Strachan explained.

“There have been a few occasions where they haven’t stopped in at the office. And we were not sure where they were going. But they have been stopped, and told they have to go to the office. So, that’s been a concern.”

Strachan said the orders, typically placed from the cellphones of students sitting inside classrooms, also frustrated drivers who didn’t know where to find their customers to complete the transaction.

Eventually, teachers started to catch on to the fact that students were asking to take bathroom breaks — but actually stepping outside to meet food delivery drivers.

“I get it everyday,” Ethan, a Grade 10 student at Semiahmoo Secondary told Global News.

“It’s not really me ordering, it’s my parents ordering. My mom doesn’t really have time to make lunch anymore — the work is getting a little bit busy now.”

But Ethan and his friends, who some classmates estimate are among hundreds of students who regularly order lunch from off-site restaurants, are now following the rules that have been implemented by their principals.

“A couple of schools have made arrangements, where students can pick up their food at lunchtime. Not pulling students out of learning time, so they can pick up their delivery in the parking lot,” Strachan explained of the changes implemented in recent weeks.

Those changes also include a ban on deliveries on school grounds.

“And it seems to be working,” Strachan said.

While Surrey School District officials didn’t name the company, students told Global News that the popular food delivery service Skip The Dishes had been “banned” from delivering on school grounds.

In a statement to Global News, Skip The Dishes said it doesn’t track statistics when it comes to school deliveries.

The company added that it would respect any rules put in place by principals or school districts when it comes to regulations surrounding on-site deliveries.

Strachan says other school districts may be experiencing similar problems, which are also a sign of changing times and trends — and an issue of convenience for some students, including one senior at Semiahmoo Secondary who explained why she and her siblings order lunch every day.

“I have two siblings, and it’s always a hustle to get up in the mornings.” She explained.

“That’s why we order — it’s much easier to just get pre-made food. We don’t have to go to the cafeteria and stand in the lineups.”

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