Diabetic Teen Refused Admission to Drive-In for Bringing Outside Candy
The management at New Jersey's Delsea Drive-In is strict about their "no outside food" policy. So strict, in fact, that a diabetic teen was denied admission for bringing along a backpack containing insulin, an Epipen, a juice box, and a small candy to manage his blood sugar level.16-year-old Ben Weidner, who has Type 1 diabetes, watched as his parents got into a confrontation with drive-in owner John DeLeonardis. "He needs to have items with him to handle low blood sugar," Ben's father, Phil Weidner, told WPVI. "He's got celiac, he's got numerous food allergies. We are bringing these items in not because they are extra items to eat, but because they are for his own safety."
But DeLeonardis, who is also a pediatrician, refused to budge in his policy against outside food and drink, saying that any exception would lead to waves of customers using diabetes as an excuse to bring in outside snacks.
"No food. No drink. Bottom line," he told WPVI. "Sorry your kid has an affliction but what can I tell you?"
DeLeonardis said that the house rules are plainly stated on the theater's website. Unmentioned are the diabetic and celiac-friendly snacks which, he added, are available at the concession stand. Additionally, Yelp reviews found some customers complaining of long wait times for snacks--which could spell disaster were a diabetic person's blood sugar level to fall below a certain threshold.
While it's understandable that a business owner who relies on revenue from a concession stand would want to enforce the policies that keep the lights on, DeLeonardis will have to decide whether, in this case, he went too far.
"I feel humiliated, really," Ben said. "Because I've been trying to get past this, all this stuff with my friends. Pretty much being with them, be as normal as possible. It's just really humiliating."
DeLeonardis currently has no plans to change his policy against outside food.