GRE Argument Essay 165

The following appeared in a memo written by the head of the Gorham School.

“Our school cafeteria should make changes in the lunches that it serves in order to improve the health of our students. Several teachers and I have observed that students who eat these meals tend to eat the main course and the dessert, but seldom finish the vegetable portion. This pattern means that students are missing the vital nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables, which are typically rich in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, the school cafeteria should serve larger fruit and vegetable portions along with smaller main course and dessert portions. This change will be effective because, according to research conducted at the Rose Children’s Hospital, children eat the same amount of food served to them – about 55 percent, on average – no matter what the main course is.”

In this memo, the head of the Gorham School recommends that the school cafeteria provide larger fruit and vegetable portions as compared to the main course and dessert portions and he asserts that this would improve the health of the students. The head supports this recommendation by stating certain facts. The first is that it has been observed that the students rarely finish the vegetable portion, although they generally finish the main course and the dessert. The second fact is that as per a study conducted at the Rose Children’s Hospital, the children there eat the same amount of food irrespective of the main course. Therefore, the arguer concludes that this change would be as effective in Gorham School as well. Despite the evidence provided, there are certain fallacies present in the argument that question the credibility of the recommendation made by the arguer.

The arguer neither addresses nor eliminates the reasons that may be responsible for the children not eating the vegetable portions of the meals. It is likely that the vegetable portion of the meals is either poorly cooked or is tasteless and this would account for the fact that it is left by most of the students. Moreover, it is likely that the vegetable dishes are being prepared by a cook other than the ones who prepare the main course and the desserts. It is likely that the same vegetable preparation is supplied to the students frequently. Therefore, the monotony involved in having the same dish everyday has made the children avoid eating the complete vegetable portions. Without information about the taste and the quality of the vegetable portion, it would be hard to convince the reader that the proportion of the portions of the entire meal has to be changed in order to force the children to eat the vegetable portions.

Moreover, if a child does not like the vegetable portion of the meal, it is unlikely that he will have it even if the proportions of the other portions of the meals are reduced. Therefore, increasing the vegetable portion of the meals would be a futile effort, as the children may not eat the larger portions also unless the root cause of their not eating the vegetable portions is not addressed. Moreover, the arguer does not consider other options like including fruits in the desserts and integrating vegetables in some form with the main course. This would ensure that the children are having some vegetables and fruits in their regular meals even if they do not finish the vegetable portions of their meals.

The arguer has unfairly assumed that the results shown for the children in the Rose Children’s Hospital will hold true for the students of Gorham School as well. A school and a hospital are two separate entities and neither the meals being served and nor the children at both these institutes can be compared. The meals being served at the hospital would have been specially prepared for the sick children and the children have no option but to have those meals; whereas the children attending school are hale and hearty and they would like to have meals as per their taste and liking. Moreover, the children at the hospital probably have their parents with them during meal times who coax them into finishing all the portions of their meals. Additionally, the children would be in the hospital for a short duration of time, so they probably eat whatever is served because they know that it is only for a few days and then they can eat whatever they like once they are discharged from the hospital. On the other hand, meals at the school are a regular affair and as the students have to eat the same meals daily, the students may not be open to the idea of being forced to eat something that they do not have a liking for.

The argument could have been strengthened with additional details about the taste and the quality of the vegetable portions being served to the students. Moreover, there is a need to provide information related to the research that was carried out in the hospital to make the results of the research applicable to the school as well. In view of the above, it is evident that the arguer fails to persuade the reader that the action of increasing the vegetable portions of the meals is warranted.