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Evening food fair a better draw for clubs

By Ellie Kruglikov

Several times each year, excited students gather over delicious food in the circle for the school’s annual food fairs.  These fairs had been filled with an array of homemade foods, until last year, when the school began enforcing state rules dictating specifically which foods could and could not be sold at food fair.

“Recently, because of state and district rules, we can’t sell certain types of food, and so I think unfortunately that’s negatively impacted clubs and leadership as far as their ability to raise extra funds,” said leadership teacher Allen Nakamura.

French club president Kaili Le discussed how the new rules limited her club’s options of foods to sell.   ”As a French club, it’s pretty hard to find a French restaurant that will sponsor us, because they’re hard to come by and they’re usually expensive,” Le said. “It’s harder for clubs to sell foods that are unique.”

The new rules also made it more difficult for clubs to make a profit.  Homemade foods can generally be made inexpensively, and sold at a greater profit, while food purchased from restaurants are expensive, resulting in less money going to clubs for the food they sell.

Many clubs depend on the money they make from food fair to fund activities and projects for their meetings. “We use the money to buy craft materials for art projects,” said Lenora Yee, the president of fashion and compassion club.

The state rules especially limited clubs who made their sales from homemade foods, now prohibited by the new restrictions.  The first food fair with the new standards made it clear how limited clubs were.  “There were so many [fewer] clubs because people could hardly sell anything,” said leadership student Eden Moore.

Food fair regulars also noticed the change in attendance.  “There were [fewer] clubs and there were [fewer] people, actually,” said junior Alyssa Lee.

Now, in an effort to save the beloved tradition, leadership students are testing out a nocturnal take on the food fair, the food fair after dark.

This new food fair, held alongside a movie night, allowed clubs to continue their sales of special homemade foods.  The California Department of Education says that the food regulations only apply to food sold during the school day and in competition with the cafeteria, so the clubs are able to bypass the rules at the nighttime food fair.

“At food fair after dark it’s more liberal with what you can sell.  You might be able to sell certain kinds of foods that you can’t sell at a food fair during school hours,” said Nakamura.

There is plenty of excitement about food fair after dark.   French club is among the many eager to return to the homemade food fair classics.  “This definitely makes it easier because we were going to cook a lot of foods,” Le said.

However, people also show concern for the turnout at an after-school food fair.  While the night-time setting has advantages, a potentially lower turnout runs the risk of making less money for clubs.  “I’m a little nervous about how many people are going to show up to this new one because it is after school,” Le said before the food fair. “We’ll see the turnout, whether it’s worth it.”

“I’ve got a feeling that it’s probably not going to be nearly as big as it was during school time.  [During] school time you have a built-in crowd, built-in customers, it was big.  But if they have to come in to the school on a Friday night at 7, it’s going to make it more difficult,” said Nakamura.

However, on the night of Friday, Oct. 30, the food fair after dark drew a surprising crowd.  “It went pretty well for our first time, and there were more people than I expected,” said Helen Montell, the co-president of the Jewish Student Community, “It’s good because people come for the movie night so there are more people at the food fair.”

Elizabeth McDonough, president of the Junior State of America club, noted that “We had a really good experience.  And we came out with a fair bit of profit which we were really happy with.”

But can the food fair after dark have future success?  According to McDonough,  “Yes, for sure. One hundred percent.”

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