Since the start of the new school year, notable changes have been made to the Dining Hall—the most prominent having to do with breakfast foods, vegetarian options and beverages. These modifications have been made due to the Academy’s “Live Clean, Eat Dirty” campaign, an initiative to shift towards healthier foods.
According to Michael McCarthy, the Director of Food Services, the Dining Hall staff has attended conferences and workshops, such as the World Culinary Conference at UMass Amherst, in order to produce the best possible meals for the Academy. “Our two main goals are nutrition and sustainability,” Mr. McCarthy said, “and they go hand in hand.”
Food Services has made a conscious effort to offer an abundance of healthier options by revamping the breakfast menu. Although the traditional favorites—waffles, pancakes, and cereals—can still be found, McCarthy hopes that students will begin choosing healthier alternatives. Homemade granola has quickly become a breakfast favorite, made with “100% organic oats and natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey.”
Quentin Jeyaretnam ’16 remarked, “I never really went to breakfast last year, but I can definitely see an improvement in food. I rarely miss breakfast now.”
Certain foods, like the egg and cheese muffin, have been created for portability, as McCarthy believes it will encourage students to at least drop by the Dining Hall to pick up breakfast.
Vegetarians of the Academy have also experienced a change in the quality of food. New dishes like the lentil and squash curry, spicy peanut stew and the chickpea millet cake have been added to the vegetarian menu. McCarthy said, “We’ve really tried to put the emphasis on putting equal effort and creativity into the vegetarian meals as much as the meat-based meals, and that’s a bit of a shift for us.”
Elizabeth Tiemann ’16 offered her opinion on the changes seen at the salad bar: “Being gluten-free, I rely heavily on the salad bar at lunch, which has seen tremendous augmentation, both in configuration and actual selection of food.”
An entirely new set of drinks has been added to the dining hall. Instead of offering drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, the Dining Hall has implemented beverages, like the pomegranate green tea and lemonade, which use natural sugar cane instead, largely due to the health benefits.
There has been some backlash, however, over the change in beverages. Mr. McCarthy has been hearing complaints about the lack of Powerade. His response: “There is a time and place for electrolyte replacement, and it’s not sitting down at lunch and having a blue Powerade with dye and high-fructose corn syrup.”
“It’s really about ingredients, it’s about creativity, and it’s about hard work,” Mr. McCarthy explained. Ultimately, he’s hoping that eventually, “students [will] break away from their comfort zones with what they eat and try something [new].”