A common part of a students day includes making their lunchbox ready for the next day. Students spend a lot of time and effort on cooking their lunches, and after a long morning of lectures, all you can think about is that delicious piece of lasagna that is waiting for you in the lunchroom’s fridge, ready to be heated up and eaten. But imagine the devastation of opening the fridge and not finding your lunchbox, it’s in fact completely gone.
During the past few weeks there has been a recurring issue among all lunch rooms at campus. Lunchboxes, drinks and utensils have gone missing under mysterious circumstances, along with individual parts of students’ lunches.
“I opened the refrigerator and my lunchbox wasn’t there!” one student from JTH says. “I had left my food in one of the refrigerators and when I came back to eat it, it was gone!” says another student from Hälso.
EDIT have reached out to more affected students from HLK, JIBS, JTH and Hälso and they all have similar stories. A student from JTH tells EDIT: “I had food from Mr Rice and saved it for the next day, so Wednesday (the next day) I go to the fridge to get my food and it was not there. I looked in all the fridge’s and it was still not there. My Starbucks drink has also been stolen twice and once my watermelon red bull.”
Students have been leaving their lunches in the fridges as usual, but not everyone has gotten to eat the food they had prepared for themselves. Instead a thief has been taking their entire lunchboxes and even eaten out of them without permission. It has become a known problem in all the schools of JU, nonetheless at HLK, of which most of the stealing has been reported. Linnea Henriksson, a student at HLK (Media and communication) tells us about her encounter with the food thief on 12th of october:
“I had left two cheese sandwiches and two pears in the school’s refrigerator around 8 in the morning. In the bag I also had my water bottle. I came back about an hour later during a break to get my sandwiches, but once I opened the fridge and looked inside my bag, only the water bottle was left inside of it. The sandwiches and pears were gone.” Linnea explained that she at first was astonished by the whole situation. She even searched through the other fridges to see if someone had placed it there, and she even checked the garbage in case someone had thrown it away or left the wrappings behind. Once she talked with other students about it, it became evident that this was not a one time scenario.
“Needless to say, I became angry. All students have the same types of economic circumstances. I commute to JU and I often have a long period of time between lunches, which makes lunch boxes and snacks the A and O to get through the day.” Linnea did not have any time to buy additional food during the day, instead she finally got to eat again seven hours after she first ate breakfast.
Julia Sidhammar also had her food stolen from the HLK lunchroom. “I brought lasagna to school, but once I came back later that day, around 4 pm, it was not in the fridge anymore, only my utensils. I checked the other fridges and found my lunchbox with only 1/4th of the lasagna left inside it. Someone had taken my lunchbox, heated it up, eaten most of it and put it back inside one of the other fridges.”
EDIT decided to further investigate the situation and interviewed students around campus during lunch time: “My friend got their lunchbox stolen, but later found it half eaten in another fridge!” says a student from HLK. Another student had their lunch stolen 5 times during one week.
The students proceed to describe the food that got stolen, which can be anything from fruit, sandwiches, yogurt, to only some parts of the lunchbox and even the entire box. Although the thief seems to be a picky eater. More than 4 times it has been reported to EDIT that the thief stole a lunchbox of fish, which seemingly is the thief’s favorite dish. Stories have been circulating of one student losing only her salmon from her lunchbox, another their chicken and another only had their broccoli left inside their lunchbox and the rest of the food was eaten. Reportedly, the thief does not seem to be a fan of vegetables.
Additionally, like Julia Sidhammar´s story, another shocking story from a student was reported to EDIT. The student had brought spaghetti bolognese to campus, of which she later opened her lunchbox and only found that the spaghetti was left inside of it. It was obvious that the thief had been eating from her lunchbox and put it back like nothing had happened. Weirdly enough, one student reported that she only got her utensils stolen from inside her lunchbox, but not her food, while another student lost her lunch box but not her sandwich.
Students describe the whole situation as bizarre and unacceptable. They do not feel safe anymore bringing their lunch to school, but still many do even though they are risking both their food and tupperware to get stolen, which a lot of times are made out of glass and are therefore not the cheapest tupperware to lose, estimated to cost about 50 kr each. One student answered our survey and mentioned that due to their diabetes, it is important that they eat at a certain time. Getting your lunch stolen can therefore put students’ health at risk.
Some students are reportedly joking about the theft to lighten the mood: “The thief is lucky not to steal my lunchbox since I am not a great cook, he would have regretted it!” Although most students are getting increasingly more frustrated:
“Someone thinks that they have the right to eat other people’s lunches” a student at JIBS tells EDIT when asked what they think about the situation. There are many questions regarding the repeated theft of the lunches. Students want to find out who the thief is. “Are they even students at this school? Why would they do this to students that are already struggling with money? Do the schools know about this problem? And what do the schools do to prevent this?”
EDIT reached out to LOK – the students association for the school of education and communication for comments on the matter, of which they answered;
“I´ve received multiple emails from students who’ve experienced this for the past 1,5 months. The impression i´ve got is that it most often happens pretty early. Students leave their lunchboxes in the morning when they arrive at school, and by lunchtime when they’re going to grab their lunch, it’s sometimes gone” says Alma Reinsjö, president of LOK in an email to EDIT regarding the theft on campus.
“The first step I took was to inform the Operations Manager at HLK about the issue. Then we put ‘reminders’ on each fridge, asking everyone to make sure that they take their own lunchbox and not someone else’s.” Alma Reinsjö, president of LOK says. Unfortunately, that did not help. Lunches continued to get stolen, regardless of the notes on the doors and fridges.
She continues: “I don’t have any information regarding who is responsible as of right now. But together with HLK, we decided to close the doors leading to the fridges to at least eliminate the access from people outside of school, if it were to be a person from the outside. But again, we´re still trying to locate where the issue is coming from.”
When EDIT went to check it out, the doors were indeed locked and only students at HLK with a valid JU-card could access the lunch area and fridges. Notes were also put up by LOK on the doors, as well as on the fridges as earlier mentioned to explain the situation to the students.
When a student at HLK was asked about his lunchbox repeatedly getting stolen, he mentioned that the locked doors have been helping a lot with preventing the thieves from stealing their food.
“As of right now, the closing of the door leading to the lunch area has been successful. We locked the door this Monday so it’s only been a week, but so far I haven’t received any new emails about stolen lunch boxes” LOK adds, which further confirms that locking the doors has helped. Thus, the doors will stay locked for a while longer to make sure this is an effective solution.
– Why do you think this is happening? EDIT asks Alma Reinsjö, president of LOK, of which she answers “It’s hard for me to say and I don’t really know if it’s my place to make assumptions on why it’s happening. But If I had to guess without having any information/fact, I’d say that my first guess is the inflation and food prices right now, even if that doesn’t justify stealing someone else’s food.” When EDIT asked the same question to more students around campus to find out why they think this is happening, the answers differed from each other. Some students, like the president of LOK’s comment, think that the increasing food prices could be an underlying reason for why this is happening. Although, other students believe that the thief steals food for fun as an easy way to get lunch and gain attention.
But will the locked doors keep the thieves out, and the food inside the lunchboxes? And what about the other schools with the same problem? For now, this matter continues to be a mystery left unsolved.
Writer: Emma Rodén
Reporter: Johna Reimers