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.
Compared to most high schools in the world, TAS offers excellent food diversity; this is a strength that should not be changed. Over the past five years, however, TAS has been prioritizing students’ health over culinary diversity by gradually banning delicious junk foods from the cafeteria. One by one, students’ beloved, calorie-filled snacks have disappeared. First to go were the sodas, soon followed by deep-fried foods, brownies, and most recently, juice boxes in the serving line section. Granted, these foods are not the most nutritious, but banning them is surely not the best solution to a healthier student body.
It is true that one of the major responsibilities of schools is to protect the health of its students. However, even more important is the school’s responsibility to raise student awareness of their own health and teach students how to independently make correct dietary choices. Banning foods that contain too much sugar or fat will not accomplish this goal. “To be honest, even if we ban a certain type of food, people will still eat it outside of school,” says Catherine Chang (‘19). “They might even overindulge… because they don’t get the chance frequently at school.” Even during lunchtime, students are choosing food from outside to avoid school food, making the food bans even more meaningless. “I ask seniors to help me buy food from outside during lunch breaks as TAS food not only tastes bad, but has a similar price range as alternative food sources,” says Noah Chang (‘19).
The reasoning behind the food bans is dubious. According to Mr. Shawn O’Neal, the school’s Food Service Director, TAS food bans often mirror similar regulations implemented in schools in the United States. Instead of serving fried chicken nuggets and french fries, TAS switched to baking these pre-flash-fried foods. In the United States, though, the foremost reason for the banning of fried food in schools is obesity. TAS is clearly not facing an obesity epidemic, so limiting of food choices is completely unnecessary for students.
Instead of prohibiting foods and taking choices away, TAS should focus more on educating students, especially younger ones, on how to make healthy choices. In this way, students will not just eat healthy during their time at TAS, but for the rest of their lives as well.
Read an opinion article in favor of this recent food change here.