School Lunches Are Now Available to View Online

School lunch menus are joining the digital age, thanks to the efforts of the Londonderry School District’s dining services. Its director, Amanda Venezia, has been busy working with Nutrislice, the new program the district is using to help parents and students decide whether to eat at school or pack a lunch.

Nutrislice allows each school to not only post its lunches online, but it provides carb counts for diabetic students and staff and allergen information.

Venezia explained that the district dining services has at least five different menus it creates to accommodate different diets. There is the standard menu, a gluten free menu, one that’s dairy free, one for egg allergies, and one that is dairy/soy free. They can also do different combinations to meet as many students’ dietary needs as they can.

Dining services wants parents to understand that when they are creating special menus for students, they are trying to distinguish between allergy “concerns versus medical emergencies,” according to Venezia. She also said having all the dietary information readily available gives families more informed choices and educates them and their kids about food allergies and how to avoid them.

“It’s another aspect of educating our students on their food choices,” said Venezia.

That’s why the district got involved in an online program like Nutrislice. Venezia said she felt having the school lunches available at the touch of screen is not only empowers families, but it also more convenient in today’s world.

“People want things digitally than through a print menu,” said Venezia.

Parents will no longer have to worry about misplacing a paper menu, or having their child forget to bring it home. They can still request it if they wish, but the information will also be available through Nutrislices’ app, which is on the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

“It’s in the palm of folks hands,” said Venezia, “which is pretty gosh darn cool!”

Cell phones and computers are not the only places the lunch menus can be found. Parents were sent an email on Dec. 29 explaining that owners of Amazon Alexa-enabled devices can ask what’s for lunch during the week, or even later in the month.

Venezia said the voice commands are her favorite feature of the new program. “I just think it’s fun!”

For the last 13 months, Venezia has sorted through recipes and ingredients and put that data into the system herself. Families can access the online menus by going to londonderry.nutrislice.com directly, or by clicking on the “lunch menus” link on the dining services website, londonderry.org/departments/dining where they can choose which school menu they want to see.

The website has separate pages for each school and shows the lunch menu for the month. There are buttons on the right side to let parents see what fruits, beverages and condiments are offered daily. Families can also filter the menu for allergies and see the carb counts for each meal. The carb counter comes with a disclaimer that the information is based from recipes and manufacturer information and concerned parents should always check labels to make sure counts are accurate. There is also an option in the carb counter to translate the page into Spanish.

The Nutrislice page offers other valuable information for parents, like lunch prices, and a link to sign up for free and reduced priced meals. There’s an option to sign up for an email list to receive the menu every month. Parents can also sign up to pay for their students’ lunches online through the site.

Venezia and her dining staff have been working on creating new recipes and making sure that all the information on the site is accurate.

“That’s why it took a year,” Venezia said.

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