The Fuss Over Food

Article by: Akshay Sharathchandra

The tapping of the feet, the glances at the clock, the subtle packing of the backpack – ever seen these actions before? Of course, you have; every student has because these are the signs of the final minutes before lunch break.

ISM is lucky to have a cafeteria where there’s never a shortage in food choices. From the vegetarian food at Yogi Chef to the mouth-watering pastas at Piadina, our cafeteria boasts a large variety of cuisines and meal sizes. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many other schools in the world.

In several public schools in the United States, lunch options are limited so many just eat whatever is offered. Sophomore Mark Winhoffer, who attended an American public school before coming to Manila, claims that the variety of food available at ISM is “6 times” that of his previous school. He states that the items offered there are unhealthy, chips and slushies being among student favorites. While these may be tasty, many parents are against their children eating such unhealthy food. One notable parent with such views is First Lady Michelle Obama.

Back in 2010, she established the “Let’s Move” campaign to combat the rates of childhood obesity in the United States. Partnering with several school districts, this campaign works to provide healthier food options in cafeterias. Although it has been in development for the last few years, its effects are only seen now, catching the eyes – and tastebuds – of many public school children by surprise.

Recently, many students posted photos of their supposedly “healthier” new meals. “Mystery mush,” “Gross,” and “Decreased my appetite” are just a few of the captions accompanying pictures of unappetizing foods. All photos are also hashtagged #ThanksMichelleObama. This sarcastic statement skyrocketed to the ‘Trending’ section of Twitter, allowing millions of people to notice the unsatisfied students. Naturally, this sparked a worldwide debate.

The administrators of “Let’s Move” responded by stating that the campaign itself should not be held responsible for the food; it is the school board that makes the meal choices. Several others have responded to the tweets with varied viewpoints. It seems that these responses can be split into two parties: those who want unhealthy food in cafeterias and those who believe that the campaign is a great idea.

Both sides have good points and it certainly puts ISM, which combines both arguments, into perspective. Our canteen, while it does serve some unhealthy food, also serves healthy food. Ultimately, it is up to the students to decide what they want to eat and how healthy they want to be.