Whether you’re health-conscious, concerned about food allergies or just curious, a new school menu app offers Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools families and students a new way to check out what’s in the cafeteria.
For that matter, the photo-illustrated menu is open to anyone who wants to see how school lunches have changed. For instance, CMS students can get hummus every day, but when fries make a rare appearance they’re baked, not sizzled in fat.
All school menus include breakfast (every CMS student can get free breakfast) and lunch. About 85 high-poverty schools also offer supper menus, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program to combat child hunger.
Clicking any item gets a calorie count, nutrition data and flags for any potential allergens. Parents of lactose-intolerant children, for instance, can learn that the fresh steamed collard greens contain dairy products.
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Students can also give each item a star rating, though the totals won’t be displayed to the public. Instead, CMS will use the information as constructive feedback, said Catherine Beam, executive directer of school nutrition services.
Menus can also be translated into 10 languages (look for the globe icon), including Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and two versions of Chinese. Not only is that designed to help international families, it can be fun for students trying to broaden their horizons: chicken nuggets sound more sophisticated when you turn them into pépites de poulet.
CMS paid about $100,000 in start-up fees to the Colorado-based Nutrislice company, which provides similar services to about 13 million students, and will pay a smaller annual support fee moving ahead. There’s no cost to the users.
The app is available from Apple and Android (search for Nutrislice and select Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools after the app is installed). The same information is also available at https://cms.nutrislice.com.
And in case you’re wondering, the Char-Meck-A-Nator, which sparked a social media buzz when it debuted last year, will be back. No word on how the sandwich, which is sort of like meatloaf with cheese baked in, might translate into other languages.