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Corn Syrup Disguising as School Lunch

Mayor Bloomberg made the landmark decision to ban trans fats from city restaurants to protect the public’s health. He should take the same bold step of banning corn syrup from foods in our schools that don’t need to be sweetened.

If a student chooses a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich with chocolate milk for lunch (an option that is offered every day in our schools), he’ll essentially be eating corn syrup disguised as a meal. That’s because the wheat bread and buns served in our schools contain high-fructose corn syrup; the second ingredient in the peanut butter is dextrose (another form of corn syrup); the first ingredient in the jelly is corn syrup, not what you might expect, fruit; and the second ingredient in the chocolate milk is high-fructose corn syrup.

By some estimates, corn syrup makes up as much as 20 percent of children’s daily calories, and its consumption contributes to childhood obesity and diabetes rates. Plus, the production of corn syrup is devastating to the environment. This is all especially tragic because bread, peanut butter, and milk do not need to be sweetened. These hidden sugars in foods that don’t need them are silent contributors to the health crisis we see. It’s time for Mayor Bloomberg to take the lead again on public health issues and replace these foods containing corn syrup in our schools with healthier options that do not.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.