Our school (private secondary) just opened a canteen, and it is of type where we have to order food and wait while it is prepared. Before this there was an arrangement with nearby restaurant for students and we schools staff used to go out and continued going out.

Now our school is forcing us to use canteen but their are few problems with that like,

  1. Lack of choices
  2. No proper seating arrangement
  3. Pricey as compared to other places
  4. Time management issue as students and staffs have to use canteen at the same time
  5. Quality of food prepared

We have discussed with school committee on solving these issues and few of these may get resolved. I was wondering if it is a common practice for schools (or institutions) to force their staff to use canteen?

Note: We are allowed to bring lunch so that we don't have to go out but me and my colleagues rarely do that, so we always went out.

Update: We discussed about these issues with principal and canteen team and came to a conclusion that the teachers who would like to go out can do so provided they are back in time, school will solve seat arrangement problem, canteen team will provide choices while maintaining the quality. Time management issue is solved as teachers are allowed to visit canteen whenever they don't have class and price will not be higher than outside but might be similar or cheaper depending on item.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – enderland
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 22:12
  • Better edit your question and ask how to get intended outcome xxx. The question if it's common practice seems only to be a small factor in that.
    – user8036
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 15:22
  • Have you tried continuing to eat at nearby restaurants? E.g. does the school simply say "you must eat here" and then not enforce any punishment when you don't?
    – TylerH
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 15:23
  • Can you clarify: if you are allowed to bring your own lunch, then what does it mean to say that the school is forcing you to use the canteen? What would happen if you go to a restaurant in the morning, buy food to take out, and bring it to the school as lunch? Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 17:07
  • Clarification are in this chat room. Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 10:41

6 Answers 6


I was wondering if it is a common practice for schools (or institutions) to force their staff to use canteen?

No, it’s not common, and it’s probably not legal for them to do so, but I am not familiar with Nepal's laws and customs.

The only way I have seen where a school can tell you where to eat (in other locales) is if you have a scholarship which includes a meal plan. Then, because they pay, they choose.

Short answer: If you are paying for your own food, you probably can choose where to eat.

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    ++, Yes we are paying for our food and we got told to use canteen. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 15:53
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    @Dan that doesn't seems to be the case as OP just opened a canteen [...] Before this there was an arrangement with nearby restaurant for students and we schools staff used to go out Basically the canteen never existed on the school to start out Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 15:59
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    "No, its not common" Not in the west, but do many of us honestly know what's common at local schools in Nepal? It's a secondary school, not university. They may be less inclined to follow western habits.
    – Mast
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 18:00
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    @phresnel this is like a self-fulfilling prophecy, since this is the only and one answer on nepal they did. And its at 37 upvotes as of this post. I have a hunch the upvoters didn't upvote the answer for Nepalese law accuracy. (I didn't) Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 12:57
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    So bottom line: It actually may be common in some parts of the planet. Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 14:31

I have never heard of this arrangement, and I am wonder if it might not be financially driven?

The school just went through the expense of opening a canteen, and nobody is eating there. Given that this is a private institution, I am sure there was some cost/return analysis leading up to the decision to open the canteen, and they are not seeing the level of return that they used to justify the cost. So the easiest way for the administration to avoid the embarrassment of having made a poor financial decision, is to try to force everyone to use it so that they hit their projected revenue numbers...

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    Yep, my guess is it's a childish attempt to cover up a foolish (or possibly corrupt) decision to open a poorly-managed canteen.
    – MGOwen
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 10:13

I was wondering if it is a common practice for schools (or institutions) to force their staff to use canteen?

No it is not. It is usually an option but not something you have to do.

Besides the fact that you are paying for that food (and no one can force you to pay for something you may not want) another inconvenience of this is that some people require a special diet or meal.

Some people are lactose intolerant, some can't eat gluten, etc., so it would not be ok to make someone pay and eat something they can't. Maybe they are saying that to encourage the use of the Canteen on its first weeks (somehow unethical though). I suggest you give the canteen a try, but remember you are not forced to eat there.

Edit: Another thing that came to mind is that maybe this behavior could mean that the school doesn't want students to go out anymore before classes end. This could well be due to security reasons of some sort.

This behavior would not be rare, as I know that several schools throughout the world (including the high school I went) are reluctant to letting their students go out before classes end. In my case, you either brought your lunch with you or had something at the local cafeteria.

However, in order to be really sure on the reasons and motives why this is being implemented I suggest you ask your principal about the reasons for having to eat at the Canteen from now on. I am sure he/she will be able to say why this is being made to clear your doubts on that, and perhaps see the logic on doing it.

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    @RamChandraGiri I would also say its highly likely. I wonder, who or where was it informed that the use of the Canteen was obligatory?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 16:00
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    @RamChandraGiri interesting... probably teachers must have to abide to that order if they are being given their lunches on part of the school. However you students should have the option to chose. However, this may have something to do with the school not wanting students to go out to have lunch, so they stay inside the campus at all times... This would not be rare, I recall that in my school you couldn't go out until Classes were over or you were sick. You either bring your lunch or eat at the local Cafeteria.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 16:12
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    @DarkCygnus Sorry you misunderstood I am a teacher also. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 16:14
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    @RamChandraGiri yes i can see (missed the Staff word). Are students able to go out? Still I hold my answer. So again, if you are paying for it then you have the right to chose, if you don't then you have no option but to accept the food meal they want to give you.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 16:18
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    @RamChandraGiri Try to come to some arrangement with the canteen staff that matches the quality, cost, and convenience you had before. When you fail, go back to the principal and tell them you were unable to come to an arrangement and would like to know if you are prohibited from eating elsewhere. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 23:54

I'd say they're out of order here. You probably don't get paid during lunch times, so there is no obligation to go to the canteen. If you indeed do get paid for lunchtimes, you wouldn't be allowed out of the premises. Maybe management want some sort of supervising there, and hope that staff will provide it. Maybe management feel that if the students see staff eating there, it will encourage them to, too. maybe management would like to encourage social interaction between students and staff. The least that could happen is management says staff eat there free in those circumstances.

I used to work in schools, and would usually go to the canteen for lunch. However, I would have to pay for my meals, and vat @20% was charged too. So, I had the same meal as the students, but paid extra for the privilege!

Check with your contract, and your union, but I doubt there will be an obligation, even if it's a private school. Sound like moral blackmail - a form of bullying - which I'm certain your school has a lot of rules about. maybe they should be aired with those in authority.

  • "You probably don't get paid during lunch times" - citation needed. I would not expect a professional like a teacher to be paid by the hour, but by the day (or month). "If you indeed do get paid for lunchtimes, you wouldn't be allowed out of the premises. " - I don't find that persuasive. Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 15:08
  • @MartinBonner - most teachers are salaried - thus are paid monthly. However, about 20 yrs ago in Britain, the government decided that 1265 hrs was the maximum time to be worked during a 12 mth period. Some teachers do in fact get paid by the hr, or by the day, but those (in UK) are not those working a full time contract. this, being a private school, will have its own peculiarities - one of which may be what is mentioned in my answer.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 16:15
  • Off-topic: If you're still interested in seeing the vote split on your posts where you don't have 1000 rep: data.stackexchange.com/workplace/query/1034744/…
    – rene
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 6:59

Is it common practice for a school to force its staff to use school canteen? It depends on the country and school.

For a example, It is a common practice in some schools in Sri Lanka. Teachers of some schools in Sri Lanka need to follow some rules like "You can't bring mobile phones to class", "You can't go outside in the school hours (Yes, interval consider as a school time)", etc,.

So they can't go outside of the school in interval. So they have to buy the food from canteen if they didn't bring the meals.


They can't insist that you use the canteen, but depending on your contract, they may be able to insist that you remain on site for your entire shift - meaning your options are to use the canteen, take your own lunch, or have food delivered.

I've been in a similar situation, where a company I worked for moved buildings to one with a new canteen, and they tried a similar approach. It backfired spectacularly, because given a team of 10 people, 6 would originally use the canteen and 4 would go out to a local sandwich place. When the ban on leaving the office was implemented, the original 4 would still place a delivery order with the sandwich place, and a few of the ones who previously used the canteen switched to the sandwich place because it no longer meant leaving the office.

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