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JFK High students fighting to keep Chamorro food

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by Isa Baza

Guam - A big part of Chamorro Month is, of course, the food. But students are speaking out in hopes the tradition to include Chamorro food at Gupot Chamorro won't die out their senior year.

Students from John F. Kennedy High School have decided to fight for the opportunity to have a fiesta at the annual Gupot Chamorro event set to take place next month. According to Davina Artero and Abby Bilon, seniors at JFK, this would be the first year without authentic Chamorro food at the cultural event. Enjoying traditional Chamorro cuisine has been a staple of the Gupot Chamorro event in years past. Now that it's their senior year, they are fighting to keep the tradition alive.

Bilon said, "Why are we going to have a day to celebrate Chamorro culture and we're not allowed to eat Chamorro food? It just doesn't really make sense. Sometimes we have it catered but we have traditional Chamorro foods catered and sometimes we actually just barbeque this year we were planning on going all out. We wanted to roast a pig and we wanted to barbeque and when we found out we couldn't' do it we were really upset."

The students claimed that it wasn't just them, but that some school officials support them as well. "We want to work with superintendent, we want him to let us barbeque because this is actually the first year we're not allowed to," Bilon continued. And Artero added, "We're just hoping that the superintendent is willing to hear us out and come to an agreement of how we can work this out."

Superintendent Jon Fernandez said his intention is not to upset students, but that he is simply enforcing current board policies. In fact, Board Policy 705 states: "All Foods & Beverages prepared and distributed for student consumption shall be procured from a United States Food and Drug Administration approved source or GPSS approved source." It also states that schools must "comply with all federal and local Rules and Regulations regarding the preparation, distribution, and storage of foods".

This policy is in place to prevent mass food poisoning, a situation which has actually happened in the past. Some might recall that in 2011 almost 300 students at Guam's southern schools were sent home or rushed to the Guam Memorial Hospital following a food poisoning incident.

Fernandez said he would rather enforce set policies than chance another situation like this happening in the future. 
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