Around the Nation
4:16 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Crumbs May Soon Dry Up For New York Subway Rats

A New York lawmaker wants to put the brakes on eating donuts, and anything else for that matter, in the city's subway system. State Sen. Bill Perkins of Harlem says an eating ban would help combat rats and litter. But, the issue is stirring somewhat of a food fight among subway riders.

We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But in today's fast-paced society, a lot of us simply don't have the time to sit down for a morning meal, at least not in the traditional sense. So we do what Norisel Salcedo does — eat on the run. This morning she's munching on a granola bar on her way to work on a southbound D train.

"I'm very hungry and it's breakfast," Salcedo laughs.

Fifteen-year-old Jakaira Caycho knows what that's like. She says she often wolfs down a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich as she rides the rails to school. "I think that people should eat in the subway because kids get hungry and they don't even have time to eat in the house or anything," she says.

Caycho says she has seen a lot of rats in the subway, so she gets what all the fuss is about. But, she also doesn't think an eating ban will solve the problem. Bronx resident Lucy Sailsman disagrees. She says she's tired of seeing people in the subway stuff their faces and leave a smorgasbord of crumbs behind for rodents.

"Eat at home, or wait till you get to work or wherever you're going to eat," Sailsman says.

But, what if you work more than one job to make ends meet? Those are the people subway rider Troy Davis says he worries about.

"If this is your chance to eat, then this is your chance to eat," Davis says. "You gotta figure, if you gotta go from one job and you already had lunch there, but you're trying to make it to the other job and you haven't had dinner yet. You're going to try to put a little something in your system before you get to your other job. You don't want to be late, so you do it on the subway. "

Under the proposed eating ban, subway riders caught noshing could be slapped with a fine of up to $250.

"That's not cool. No way," says rider Bernadette Joseph, upon hearing about the fine.

Joseph says her subway ride to work takes an hour — a commute she calls "breakfast time." This morning she had a granola bar and yogurt.

Harlem resident Randall Iserman says he's seen his fellow subway riders eat just about everything, and he would simply prefer if they refined their habits.

"I'm a little old fashioned and I think it's better if you can sit and eat at a table, preferably either at home or a restaurant or places designed for eating, but I'm not really the person to tell anyone else how they can fit their lives together or fulfill their time," Iserman says.

Or change their morning routines. School teacher Monique Abrams says for her, that would be the hardest part of a ban on eating in the subway.

"Every morning, bagel, butter, iced coffee to get me going in the morning to get up to the Bronx and deal with these kids," Abrams says. "And I don't know, if I didn't have my iced coffee in the morning, what I would do. I would probably start to smoke cigarettes. That wouldn't be good."

Or legal. If the eating ban is approved, Abrams could look to Washington, D.C. or San Francisco commuters for advice on how to cope. Those cities already outlaw eating in the subway.

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