This article is part of a debate column on TAS’s decision to restrict juice boxes and desserts in the hot lunch line. Read the other article here

Health food: these two dreaded words often evoke stereotypical images of bland dishes with five calories and no flavor. Despite that, the healthy foods that TAS Food Services has introduced throughout the past few years have been far from boring.

The latest changes to the TAS cafeteria menu substitutes juice boxes with coconut water, and replaces lunch line desserts with two kinds of fresh fruit from Monday to Thursday. TAS Food Service Director Mr. Shawn O’Neal says that such changes were issued from the Nutrition Committee, which consists of several Lower School parents; Director of Health, PE and Sports Mr. Ryan Mueller; and Lower School principal Ms. Tara Simeonidis.

One benefit that the new changes bring to the TAS community is the elimination of added sugars. The harms of added sugars are well documented: Harvard Health Publishing stated that those who take in 25 percent or more of daily calories as sugar are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets have less than 10 percent. Even if one consumes ample amounts of healthy foods like vegetables alongside sugar, the negative health impact still exists. This makes cutting down on added sugar even more key to ensuring the health of students.

In particular, the health consequences of sugar significantly affect younger children. Student Government co-president Annabel Uhlman (‘18) says, “If I were in Lower School, I would be disappointed that I don’t get a cookie, but overall it’s good for health.”

Dance instructor Ms. Cheryl Lagerquist praises the removal of boxed fruit juices from the lunch line because they were full of chemicals and sugar, not real fruit juice. She says, “It’s bad for little kids, as they get hyped up.” According to the New York Times, our early taste preferences often last throughout life. Since dietary habits are developed from a young age, it is better that Lower School students get used to having fruit as a healthier dessert choice whenever they crave sugar.

Besides, TAS has many healthy, natural foods to choose from. Jeffrey Hsu (‘19) says that he does not mind the changes since there are “plenty of other options, including milk.” The selection of food that TAS offers is huge. Mr. O’Neal says, “I have not run across another school that has a wider variety of food than [TAS].” While junk food is admittedly delicious, the recent nutritious substitutions for our classic favorites are not only tasty, but far more beneficial to our bodies in the long run.      

Read an opinion article opposing the food change here.

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