Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco schools detail lunch menus with app and online

LUTZ — There are mornings when knowing what's for lunch at Odessa Elementary School would help Noele Kliewer immensely.

Her second-grade daughter doesn't always like what the school serves, Kliewer said, and on those days she prepares a lunch box instead. The school doesn't send home paper menus, and trying to navigate the district website can prove daunting even when you're not busy.

"If it was Monday morning at 7:30 and I'm trying to decide whether she'd like a lunch box or not, and I could just look at an app, that would be awesome," Kliewer said.

Wait no more. The Pasco County School District debuted an online cafeteria menu system, including smartphone application, a week ago to help parents plan. On it, parents can find out what's in the cafeteria weeks in advance.

"The beauty of the online menu is they can anticipate the days they are going to have to navigate through," said district dietitian Sarah Wood, who helps to create the school menus.

Wood and colleague Stephanie Spicknall spent weeks leading up to the system launch reviewing the calories, grams of fat and other specifics of every menu item to ensure that the online information is accurate.

Then they double-checked that the menus meet federal guidelines, lest the district lose funding for failure to comply.

"It's a full-time job to stay up to date," Wood said, noting that ingredients sometimes change and that different brands of the same product can vary in nutrients.

They will continue to update the information on the site throughout the year.

The smartphone app shows icons indicating whether each choice, be it a peach cup or barbecue pork, includes soy, dairy, wheat or egg. (Those items, along with nuts, fish and shellfish constitute about 90 percent of food allergies among children.) On the computer version, parents can select their children's allergies and watch as the program crosses out all items that might make their kids ill.

On some days, wheat or soy allergies leave children with few options, mostly among the side dishes. But food and nutrition director Julie Hedine said schools can make dietary accommodations for families that bring in proper medical documentation. The school could turn a sandwich into a salad for a student with certain needs, she said as an example.

The menus also show calories, carbohydrates and more.

Kliewer said such information could also help her plan dinners, to balance out whatever her daughter ate for lunch.

The district is using its new system in other ways to generate interest (and drum up sales) in the cafeterias. It has launched surveys and created a site where students can vote on menu choices.

For October, the schools are debuting three sandwiches — grilled chicken breast in sweet and sour sauce with pineapple; a chicken, apple and lettuce wrap; and a chili cheeseburger — with the one that gets the most votes returning to the menu at the end of the month.

As the computerized system takes hold, Hedine said, her department plans to further scale back the already small number of printed menus that schools put on their front counters. It will offer an emailed version to anyone who requests it.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. Follow @jeffsolochek on Twitter. For more education news visit the Gradebook at

Online menus

Pasco County parents can find their school's online interactive cafeteria menu at The smartphone application School Lunch by Nutrislice is available at most app stores, including Google Play and iTunes.

Pasco schools detail lunch menus with app and online 10/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 7:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101