What's on your child's school lunch tray this week? Want to improve it?
Check out LUNCH LINE, a mobile app and website which launched this week, created by students at City-as-School High School. LUNCH LINE allows you to post pictures and comment on your school's daily school lunch page and to join or start a school group to organize improvements and advocate for better food.
"It's a tool for parents," said City-as senior Emma Jenney who was one of 12 students in Naima Freitas' biology class last spring who designed the app with the help of an outside programmer and designer. "It's exposing school food in America right now which has been kind of a hidden thing."
As part of the project, students visited elementary school lunchrooms to see what young children eat and how much they throw away, she said. The students compared the average cafeteria meal offerings to those provided at some 30 schools which subscribe to Wellness in the Schools programs. Wellness schools offer alternative menus. They use the same ingredients as those provided by the Education Department's Office of School Food, but they prepare the meals differently. And they train the kitchen staff on how to cook healthier meals.
At a launch party on Wednesday sponsored by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, which helped fund the project, visitors could eat several varieties of salad, and grass-fed beef with whole wheat pasta cooked by Wellness in the Schools chefs. It was the same food that young children might be eating at school. The school's "find your school" section lets you see which schools are affiliated with Wellness and Garden to Cafe.
In the "take action" department,LUNCH LINE users may sign a petition against PB&J sandwiches -- frequently the only vegetarian alternative on the school lunch menu -- because one of the main ingredients is corn syrup.
The site only includes elementary schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan but students hope the idea will take off and the site will grow.