school lunches

The Florida Department of Agriculture has announced more than 900 sites in the state that will be serving meals as schools shut down until March 30.  The initial list covers 30 of Florida's 67 counties, including Franklin, Gadsden and Leon in the Panhandle.

School lunches are healthier than they were five years ago. But Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says schools need more flexibility in serving meals that kids will eat.

"If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted," Perdue said in a statement announcing a rule that is set to be published later this month.

A new legislative proposal could require Florida schools to distribute free or reduce-price meal applications to all students, not just those in need. The bill applies to schools in the national school lunch program or the breakfast program.

When it comes to feeding kids a healthy diet, "it's not politics, it's parenting," Michelle Obama said Friday.

And then she got a little fired up.

Without ever naming President Trump, the former first lady took aim at changes the administration announced last week that weaken some of the school nutrition standards she championed.

Miami-Dade school meals are going lean and green this school year -- with more veggies and heathier, low-calorie choices.

The district is adding smoothies made with Naked brand juices, greek yogurt and vegetarian lasagna.

But at an event Monday unveiling the new dishes, the district was most proud of its version of a Miami classic.

The “guavalito” is a whole grain, lower-sugar version of a guava and cheese pastelito, made by a local baker.

After the the school lunch program was overhauled in 2012 to curb childhood obesity, lots of kids began complaining that lunches were too skimpy.

Why? Because in some cases, schools had to limit healthy foods — such as sandwiches served on whole-grain bread or salads topped with grilled chicken — due to restrictions the U.S. Department of Agriculture set on the amount of grains and protein that could be served at meal-time.

In some districts, program participation dropped as more kids decided to brown-bag it and bring their own food to school.

Gone are the days of serving up tater tots and French toast sticks to students. Here are the days of carrot sticks and quinoa.

New nutritional guidelines, announced in 2012, require public school lunchrooms to offer more whole grains, low-fat milk and fewer starchy sides like french fries. But short of stationing grandmothers in every cafeteria, how do you ensure that students actually eat the fruits and veggies they're being offered?