Taher puts in effort for nutritious meal options

Taher puts in effort for nutritious meal options

Taher has put in a special effort to ensure students have an opportunity to choose healthy meals in the Commons.

Liza Magill, Staff Writer

Approaching the lunch line during sixth hour, students flock to the cookies, fruit snacks, and potato chips; however, they also consider healthy options and want nutritious lunches to satiate their hunger, leaving a dilemma for Taher employees.

About five years ago, the lunches at BSM began to adapt to the focus on nutrition and school wellness with an increase in healthier options. “We started with the all-health rack, then it escalated to having drinks that have no calories and many electrolytes, and it just continued from there,” said Lynn Lynch, cafeteria manager.

Now, Taher most prevalently focuses on adequate nourishment in school lunches through the use of only fresh foods for their meals. “Everything that we make is fresh. We bring in ground beef, chicken breasts on salads, everything. We cook them every morning when the meat comes and we slice them every day for lunch,” said Lynch.

The food service staff also attempts to increase the nutrition of the lunches by simplifying the meals so as to get rid of unnecessary calories. “We ask questions like ‘Can a sandwich survive without cheese?’ and we look and then try to put it together,” said Mr. Jonathon Barnes, head chef.

To create the menus for the main meals every day, Chef Barnes and fellow Taher employees plan a month or two in advance in order to create healthy meals that have a combination of nutrients. “We ask students when they come through the line what they like…and then we look and make sure that we create a balance,” said Chef Barnes.

Some students, however, question the balance of these meals. “I think that some of the meals have too many carbohydrates, so it’s hard for [the meals] to be healthy in my mind,” said sophomore Annie White.

In order to ensure the nutrition in the meals they serve, the food service staff often uses planned recipes from Taher. “Taher works with many public schools which have to follow guidelines on nutrition in their foods. We get recipes from Taher, and they are all broken down by nutrition so we can make sure that we are giving kids the nutrition they need,” said Ms. Lynch.

A focus on variety in the lunchroom also creates healthful options for students. “We try to do different things to keep it healthy. We have different things at [the] salad bar on different days of the week, and we try to mix it up. We just try to create as many options as possible,” said Chef Barnes.

Students can also always buy vegetarian options, and if requested, the cooks can cater directly to specific students. “We try to keep vegetarian options with veggie burgers on Tuesdays and Thursdays and margarita pizzas on Wednesdays…We also get vegetarians that talk to us, and we make them meals everyday. All students have to do is come to us, and we are willing to cater to them,” said Ms. Lynch.

Completely nutritious options can’t fill the entire shelves, and some unhealthy options can hardly be avoided. “We still have to cater to what the kids want and will buy, so we know that not everything here is great for you. But I’m a firm believer in everything in moderation,” said Ms. Lynch.

Despite all this work, however, some students still believe more could be done to highlight the nutritious choices in the lunch line. “It’s easier to get unhealthy foods at lunch because you don’t have to wait in the long lines to get them. I would rather just go get chips in the entry area than waste my lunch hour waiting for healthier food,” said freshman Sarah Karels.