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Nutrition software, coming to a school near you (well eventually, anyway)

In case anyone in the Food Facts community hasn’t noticed, schools all over the country have been issuing electronic payment cards for student school lunches. Parents transfer money onto the card and then students use the card similarly to an ATM, with the cost being debited from the money in the account. Frankly, it took my own family a while to get used to … the card ended up in pockets that got washed and became unusable and the school was enormously patient with us as we (read my children) became used to the idea that those cards were important and needed to be treated that way. It all worked out in the end. But we were a bit mystified as to why we couldn’t just give the kids a five dollar bill every day to pay for their lunch (no potential card washing involved).

On Wednesday, a really fascinating article was published on Indystar.com (the Gannett owned Indiana newspaper). It gave us an insight as to why the electronic lunch payment cards have been issued and we thought our community might like to have a better understanding. So we’ll sum it up for you here.

This fall, the Waukee school district in Indianapolis will be implementing new nutrition software. With this implementation, parents will now have online access to monitor their kid’s food purchases in school. The software, called PrimeroEdge is manufactured by Cybersoft.

Parents will have online access to nutrition information for all meals available in their children’s school. That will include calories, carbs, sodium and fat. They’ll also be able to access ingredient lists. And, of course, they’ll be able to view the food purchases their kids are making on their school lunch card accounts. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed that I couldn’t figure out why we were getting those cards in the first place – even if we don’t live in Indianapolis.

When this comes to where my family lives, I’ll be able to go online and see the food choices my kids are making during the day. It might open valuable conversations between us … things like “wasn’t there anything better on the menu today?” or “wow, you went through that money pretty quick, what exactly were you snacking on?” or “gee, maybe you want to eat some fruit instead of those cookies at least a few days a week.”

But for me, personally, it will be a better window into the nutritional value of the food being served. It’s no secret that we’ve had some pretty odd occurrences regarding the nutritional value of school lunches in our country (ketchup as a vegetable, anyone?). And to be honest, some of the preparation choices in some areas as early as six years ago were kind of questionable for very young children. Kids can be picky eaters and tend to appreciate more honest food they recognize that feature fresh ingredients. Ask your children what salads look like in their schools (my own have told me that the lettuce is wilted, the tomatoes have no taste and the dressing comes in a packet).

If this software improves the communication between parents, children and schools regarding nutritional value and eating habits, we’re certainly all for it.

We’d love to hear opinions from our Food Facts community. Take a look at this link and tell us what you think.

http://www.indystar.com/article/D2/20120628/COMM/306280026/New-software-will-let-parents-monitor-kids-eating-habits?odyssey=nav|head

It would appear it’s coming soon, to a school near you!

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