When a food truck opened across the street from Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School last year, upperclassmen flocked to buy tacos and burritos for lunch.
Leaving campus is a privilege and the Rockville school operate a food police to monitor meals from the food truck, which is not certified kosher.
But what if students bring leftovers back to school, where only kosher food is allowed?
And that’s where Addie Bassin stepped in. The 16-year-old junior decided to investigate. Addie is a huge fan of the food truck and in the fall, she bought her lunch there a few times a week.
Last semester, Addie was in the school’s first videography course and she was assigned to produce a news video. She decided it would be about the half-eaten meals that people say are brought into school.
“I wondered how people get away with it,” she says in a phone interview. “I would definitely say people aren’t bringing in shrimp. But I have seen people bringing in tacos or chicken wraps.”
The three minute video, “Kosher Conundrum: Off Campus Eating,” posted Jan. 9 on the website of the student publication The Lion’s Tale, has gotten 200 views, Addie says.
Addie is the narrator of “Kosher Conundrum.” The video features interviews with students, faculty and Mario, the truck’s owner, who says that tacos are his biggest sellers with the students.
The students are split. Many are fans of Mario. Others are concerned that non-kosher food is being eaten in school.
“When I first came I was a little uncomfortable because it really wasn’t something I was used to,” junior Gabi Loshin says in the video. “I always used to being around kosher food. Other people don’t really realize that there are people who keep strict kosher.”
Faculty members say that the students can eat what they please off campus. But bringing the food into school is another matter.
“I don’t see an issue if students eat non-kosher food — if they go out to lunch they can eat whatever they want,” Roz Landy, dean of students, says on camera. “There is a big problem with bringing it back.”
Educators agreed that eating non-kosher food off campus wasn’t an issue. Students are still free to buy from the food truck. The issue is bringing the food back on campus.
Mario says he’s aware of the rules. “I would rather you guys eat here or eat in your cars,” he says.
Editors of The Lion’s Tale submitted “Kosher Conundrum” to School Newspaper Online, which hosts student newspapers, including The Lion’s Tale. SNO featured Addie’s video on its Best of SNO site, where, as of this writing, it is the Number 2 trending item.
“I didn’t even know what [the citation] was when I got it,” she says. “It was a really good feeling. [But] other people were more excited than I was.”
One person who is excited is Jessica Nassau, the school’s director of publications.
“For Addie to get [this] recognition on her very first video, right out of the gate, is just so exciting and it really shows her potential.”
Addie says he had always been interested in videography. When she made videos with her cousins, she was always the director, never on screen.
She says her videography class helped her see movies in an entirely new way.
“I stopped looking [at them] as a form of entertainment and started looking at is as if it were a book, and began analyzing them,” she says.
Since the weather got colder, fewer students are going to the food truck, Addie says. That’s not all that’s changed. Addie has joined the staff of the Lion’s Tale as their new multimedia editor.