Vending Machines Replacing Lunch Ladies in Miami-Dade Schools

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.

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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