Vending Machines Replacing Lunch Ladies in Miami-Dade Schools

Categories: News
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The machines are taking over the cafeteria. Starting this fall, some Miami-Dade students will be getting their school lunch from a vending machine and not Berta, the hairnet-clad lunch lady. Rest assured though, Junior won't be eating just corn chips and soda pop. The high tech machines serve healthy options made from locally grown ingredients that have been approved by local celebrity chefs like Michelle Bernstein.

Star Food Healthy Express machines will be installed in 45 high school and 10 middle schools throughout the county after a successful test run last spring. Students simply type in their ID number, and the money is taken out of their lunch account. Those who receive meals through assistance programs will also be able to get chow discreetly with out being singled out in the lunch line.

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The food offered includes everything form yogurt parfaits to Caribbean wraps, and many of the meals have been "designed" by local chefs like Michelle Bernstein (Michy's and Sra. Martinez), Frank Jeannetti (Essensia at The Palms Hotel & Spa, Miami Beach), and Kris Wessel (Red Light).

"We tried an initial roll-out in a cross section of our schools in Spring 2011. The kids are loving this option and so are the staff and administration," said Penny Parham, Administrative Director of Miami-Dade's Department of Food and Nutrition, in a release.

It all actually sounds potentially delicious. Any chance we can get one for the New Times break room?

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7 comments
Lillie Howell
Lillie Howell

Where are the nutrition facts for these meals? I have tried them and while they taste good and seem to be the healthiest lunch option at my high school, I have no real way of knowing whats actually in them! If its completely processed and fake get them out of our schools don't claim that they're healthful without any proof.

Lillie Howell
Lillie Howell

How many calories are in each of these meals? There are no nutrition facts with these meals so while they are claimed to be healthy options we have no idea what is really in them!

Who did this?!?
Who did this?!?

While I appreciate that subsidized meal plan students are made equal & that the kids are actually learning to make a few decisions about food by making their own selections this is overall a horrible idea that is doing exactly the opposite of what I'm sure the intention was. I'm sure they thought  this delivery system would appeal to kids - but video games & computers & texting & machines are part of the obesity problem. We wouldn't want the kids to have to interact with adults or carry on a conversation... this essentially allows them text in their order. (Whoever got paid to stage the intervention should be ashamed of calling themselves nutritionist/health educator/behavior health specialist/master of public health or whatever they claimed to be - I'm a few of those, which is why stuff like this frustrates me so much). Not only does it put people who've worked in the school for years out of jobs, but it sends the message that vending machines & fast food are good options (what happens when they aren't at school with these expensive machines?). It also sends the message that only professional chefs can design/cook good tasting healthy food. Kids need to see food coming from a kitchen made by "real, regular" people & know they can do it too. They need to see that healthy food comes from a kitchen where it was prepared healthfully & served on a reusable plate - not a pre-packaged, wrapped up in plastic. Oh the massive amounts of waste increasing from the packaging materials! Not to mention the amount of electricity used by the vending machines & the whole issue of food safety when transporting these prepared off-site items to the school... & the fuel costs involved in that. Ugh, major FAIL! 

Joe Gilbert
Joe Gilbert

unfortunately the story is not correct.  The machines do not replace staff in fact the more meals served the more money available to add staff.

Jyoung
Jyoung

Whats next? Vending machines and microwaves replacing home kitchens!

Michaelfirster
Michaelfirster

Great. Let's put more people out of work. I hope this fails miserably, and yes I'm a manager of a school cafeteria.  

MrChocoholic
MrChocoholic

The staff to which you are referring will be added to the restaurateurs and catering corporations that sell the prepared meals to the school system for placement in the machines. Little of that money will actually go to schools or school system personnel other than the ones receiving kickbacks and other backdoor payments for "support" of privatizing public education.  

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