school lunches

After the day’s meals are done on a recent Tuesday, Gilbert Community Schools director of food service Deb Purcell shuffles through a stack of papers. Gilbert, a town north of Ames in central Iowa, serves about 1400-1600 meals a day. 

“This is what I do, planning for a week,” Purcell says pointing to columns on a page. “And there's actually seven pages minimum that go with each day.”

She’s counting cups of vegetables and documenting other details about every meal she’s served to comply with stringent federal rules. Her job could soon get easier.

Developing An Appetite For Healthier School Meals

Dec 14, 2016
Bryan Thompson / KHI News Service

School lunch has long been a target of jokes. Those jokes turned to complaints from students and parents alike in 2012 when new congressionally mandated nutrition standards took effect.

Meriwether Lewis Elementary / flickr Creative Commons

Changes to the $22 billion federal program that distributes free meals at schools won’t be coming any time soon.

A bipartisan U.S. Senate bill would have delayed requirements to reduce sodium in school meals, expanded summer meal programs and grown the Women Infants and Children (WIC) food program.

A House committee passed a sharply different bill and negotiators couldn’t hammer out differences. That leaves the child nutrition programs operating under the policies set in 20-10.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/ File Photo

Many low-income families struggle to afford enough food. Moms and kids who qualify can participate in a federal program geared toward early development. Once kids turn five, though, they are no longer eligible for the benefits. Harvest Public Media’s Kristofor Husted reports on how that puts families at risk.

It’s 7:30 in the morning at Battle Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri. Students hop off of their buses, head down the hallway past a few folding tables with crates of milk, fruit juice and warm muffins sitting on top.

Free Summer Meals Available For Children Across Wichita

May 28, 2016
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/ File Photo

Free breakfast, lunch and snacks will be offered to children 18-years-old and younger in Wichita as part of the Kid Power Café Summer Food Service Program. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson reports the program begins Monday.

Wichita Public Schools has partnered with Kid Power, a non-profit organization that aims to teach students about the importance of eating healthy. The free meals are available to all students, not just those who received free and reduced meals during the school year.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/ File Photo

Millions of kids eat their lunch at school. Schools in the United States served more than 5 billion meals as part of the national school lunch program last year. Each meal has to meet federal rules for nutrition. As Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock reports, those rules are up for debate and changes could be coming to the cafeterias.