By Matt Bush
The number of children receiving free summer meals in Montgomery County continues to increase.
Getting students the meals is only half the battle.
The other half is making sure they eat nutritiously.
Marla Kaplan is the director of the schools food service division.
She says coming up with the menu for lunches is like putting together a puzzle.
First, they have to determine what kids will eat.
"We have an uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. By far, that's the favorite. We have a mini-sub, which is luncheon meat, cheese, tomato and lettuce. That's probably number two," she says.
There are rules for how much meat or a meat alternative, such as peanut butter, can be served.
There's also rules for fruits and vegetables, which must come from two different sources in the meal.
One source is fruit juice.
The other can be fresh fruits or vegetables, which Kaplan says is not a tough sell for kids, particularly those in elementary schools.
"The earlier we start, the better off we are. This transcends to the school year, where every cafeteria has a bowl of fresh fruit available to students everyday."
Last summer, the county served more than 333,000 summer meals.