Food for Thought: Feeding Toronto Students
With the recent talk of Jamie Oliver's "Feed Me Better" success, and the struggles to replace junk food with healthy alternatives in Canadian schools, I've taken to wondering...how do students in Toronto eat?
I didn't grow up in Toronto so I can't vouch for the elementary or secondary schools here. I did, however, go to University here, and if the dining options at the UofT campus are any indication, the situation, to put it kindly, doesn't look good.
In many of the recent discussions on this topic, the concern has been raised that if high school students are denied their preferred snacks on campus, they'll simply go off campus to get them. Here in Toronto, no matter where you live - or go to school - it's doubtful that you have to go far to fulfill your cravings.
On the other hand, fast food is often a rarity downtown, with Taco Bell and McDonalds outnumbered by falafel and pho. Granted, eating out is rarely a truly nutritious choice, but I'd still prefer to see young people chowing down on sushi than on french fries.
Plus, in my optimism, I'd like to think that exposure to diverse, quality foods helps kids grow up to make better food choices. When you realize that there's more to life that greasy hamburgers and doughy pizza, you're more apt to choose your food carefully, to eat a balanced (or at least diverse) diet, and to relish different tastes rather than mindlessly swallowing flavourless junk.
Of course, that still leaves the question of what's being served in schools - via the cafeteria and by way of vending machines. For those of you who went to school in this city, what do you think? What kinds of foods nourished (or failed to nourish) you throughout your education? And are students in Toronto better off than those in small towns - or worse?
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