Much of the race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner centers on food — whether immigrants should be able to help harvest it, how crops are traded or what items schools can serve students for lunch. Democrat Kim Olson, a farmer and Air Force veteran, is challenging the incumbent, Republican Sid Miller. In the latest edition of our Split Decision virtual debate series, watch Olson and Miller discuss these issues, as well as Miller's presence on social media and more. Stick to the end to learn which of the two candidates is better at guessing the weight of some BBQ. Olson is critical of what Miller's done over his first term as agriculture commissioner, including the fees he raised on farmers and ranchers in 2016 that an audit showed raised millions more dollars than necessary. Miller highlighted reforms he said he's made at the Texas Department of Agriculture, including increased inspections and expanded foreign markets. view article arw

School lunch is getting a little more hip in Austin. The Austin Independent School District is rolling out a new food truck to serve food for hundreds of kids each day. The food truck is called "Food 4 Thought," and it's the third food truck the district has. "Growing up and eating school lunches gets old after a while," said Diego Saldana, an 11th-grade student at Austin High School. view article arw

Ysleta ISD students staying on campus after school will now get more chances to eat before they get home. Ysleta’s supper program, which has been run in a limited capacity, is being expanded to more schools starting tomorrow. Six high schools and two middle schools will have the supper program running starting tomorrow, but the program itself has been active for some time already. view article arw

Martha Roman briskly rolls a cart full of food down the hall at the Ann Windle School for Young Children. It’s lunchtime, and the cafeteria worker knows the kids are hungry. The 3- and 4-year-olds from Jennifer Engelbrecht’s and Tammy Joice’s classes line up quietly and fidget as they wait for their turn. Roman hands them trays filled with steak fingers, apple slices, salad and milk. She makes sure their tiny hands have a tight grip on the red plastic and returns their curious gazes with a smile. view article arw

While Hallsville ISD administration and staff work hard every day to ensure students’ educational needs are met, the district’s Secretary to the Director of Special Programs Diane Hicks said they are also working to meet students’ nutritional needs through the Hallsville ISD Nutritional Backpacks for Kids Project. The annual program provides Hallsville ISD students in need with nutritional food and snacks to last them throughout the weekend and holidays, when school is not in session, by sending the students home with a backpack filled with food, socks and toiletry items every Friday afternoon. view article arw

School lunch is a problem that, so far, no one has really solved. Is it possible to cook for hundreds or thousands of kids, with only about $1.25 per head (after labor and equipment costs), following guidelines that mandate exact proportions of protein, carbs, and sugar, and still make it taste good?  Usually, no. Hence the cliché of school lunch: a droopy piece of pizza or a gray hamburger patty on a Styrofoam tray, next to a mini-carton of milk and an apple. view article arw

Celebrating five years of success, Tour de Fresh presented by the California Giant Foundation, continues to support Salad Bars to Schools in a big way – this year, by bringing 46 salad bars to four school districts across the country. Nearly 50 cyclists came together July 23-26 to ride 300 miles from Lake Tahoe to the coast of California in an effort to bring more access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools. On the final day of the ride, a $141,000check was presented to the United Fresh Start Foundation, which has since grown to over $147,000, that will donate at least 46 salad bars to schools in four school districts across the country. view article arw

The Vidor Independent School District is looking to lessen the load of families affected by Harvey. All students within the district will now be able to get their breakfast and lunch completely free. It's a federal program the school district qualifies for because majority of the student body is in need due to the storm. view article arw

Bette Mogg, director of food and nutrition services, gave an effectiveness report on the district’s student nutrition programs at the Aug. 13 Mesquite ISD Board of Trustees meeting. She reported that they served 1,749,691 breakfasts and 4,726,123 lunches last year, with an overall campus average daily participation for breakfast being 25 percent and lunch at 67 percent. The district offers two breakfast programs, traditional and universal free breakfast. Traditional breakfast is offered at 27 campuses, and universal free breakfast is offered at 21, which means all students eat free regardless of eligibility status. view article arw

Decatur High School averaged serving 89 more lunches and brought in an additional $2,104 in cash sales during the first four days of the school year with a closed campus lunch as opposed to the start of 2017. Director of Child Nutrition Shelly Laaser presented the figures to Decatur ISD trustees Monday during a report on the transition to the closed campus lunch. Trustees approved the change in April, a few weeks after a Decatur student was involved in a lunchtime accident on Hale Street that killed a man. view article arw

Wichita Falls ISD is helping kids eat well after the bell. Thursday the district launched the government funded after-school super program that allows everyone under the age of 18 to grab a free plate. It kicked off at Hirschi High School and Kate Burgess Elementary School. On the menu, blackened Tilapia tacos, rice, fruit and coleslaw. It was a hit for the kids and parents. view article arw

This year, a San Antonio school district hopes to get more students face-to-face with police officers -- in a positive way. The Northeast Independent School District is launching "Meals for Shields." All law enforcement officers are invited to schools for free lunch and conversation any time they want. The district hopes to create role models, offer students early relationships with police and let them get to know officers as people. view article arw

Instead of throwing away food you don't like, how about offering it to a neighbor? That's the goal for an Austin ISD program which has earned some national recognition. The National School Nutrition Association recognized AISD for its strategies to increase healthy foods and reduce food waste -- specifically through its "shared tables" program. view article arw

With children all across the country returning back to school this month, the nutrition in school meals is also back in the spotlight. While parents and kids don't often see eye-to-eye on what makes a school lunch great, a recent survey of 1,800 students and parents nationwide* conducted by Revolution Foods, the nation's leading healthy school meals provider, revealed the majority of parents (88 percent) and students (66 percent) agreed that healthier school meals could help students perform better in school. The survey findings support a study conducted by University of California, Berkeley and the Nutrition Policy Institute that suggests healthier meals could raise student achievement by about 4 percentile points on average. view article arw

As an indication of the number of families living at low-income levels in San Angelo, 60 percent of the San Angelo ISD students qualify for the District’s Reduced Lunch Program. The 40 percent who do not qualify for the program will pay a nominal $2.50 for elementary school lunches and $2.75 for lunches served in secondary schools. If the child qualifies for the reduced lunch program, the cost of the lunch is just 40 cents in all schools, the same price lunches cost in 1970. view article arw

With the new school year underway, the gloves came off during one school board meeting in Brownsville and it was all about something they don't even have to eat. The hot button issue was school lunches. The former Brownsville ISD students CBS 4 spoke with had good and bad things to say about the district's school lunches. view article arw

The Lubbock Independent School District announced its policy today for providing free and reduced-price meals for children served under the attached current income eligibility guidelines. Each school/site or the central office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by anyone on request. view article arw

One of the best things about North Texas students returning to school this week will be the food.  We have a lot of hungry, low-income children living among us. In the Fort Worth school district alone, 77 percent of students come from low-income homes and qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. According to the Texas Education Agency, that’s more than 66,000 children.  The healthy, filling breakfasts and lunches they’ll be served as this semester begins are for some the only real nutrition they receive all day. view article arw

Last Thursday, the Board voted to approve a four-year, $8 million contract between Houston ISD and Domino's that will bring "Smart Slice" pizza to our school cafeterias. I wasn't at the meeting, but a parent in attendance suggested I might want to look at the video footage of your deliberations. Having done so, I now feel the need to correct several misrepresentations and other troubling statements made last week by Mr. Brian Busby, HISD's Chief Operating Officer, as well as one misrepresentation by Interim Superintendent Dr. Lathan. view article arw

As Austin Independent School District students head back to class, they will also have a new lunch menu this year. New foods from different parts of the world will be offered, including Jamaican meat pies, Yuca fries and plantains. The district said the additions highlight a diverse student body.. in which more than 90 languages are spoken. Superintendent Paul Cruz visited the Harris Elementary cafeteria this morning to try some of the new items. view article arw

First, Houston ISD announces it will offer breakfast lunch and dinner to every student free of charge. Now, Fort Bend ISD is encouraging families to apply for free and reduced meals. Certainly, there are some families in need, especially following Hurricane Harvey. The Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst Jonathan Butcher said public schools don't exist to feed students, they're goal is to provide an education and prepare them for the next grade. view article arw

Fort Bend ISD’s Child Nutrition Department is encouraging families to apply for the Free and Reduced Meal Program for the 2018-19 school year. Applications are available online at www.fortbendisd.heartlandapps.com, and can be accessed through any device with Internet access. The District’s households will receive a letter about eligibility benefits and how to apply. view article arw

Weatherford ISD announced its policyfor providing free and reduced-price meals for children served under the attached current income eligibility guidelines. Each school/site or the central office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by anyone on request. The district began distributing letters Aug. 1 to the households of the children in the district about eligibility benefits and any actions households need to take to apply for these benefits. view article arw

All students in Houston ISD can receive up to three free meals per school day in 2018-19, the second straight year that families will not have to pay for breakfast, lunch or dinner, district officials announced Monday. All of HISD’s 280-plus schools now qualify under a U.S. Department of Agriculture program designed to provide free meals to districts and campuses in low-income areas, district officials said. About 190 campuses qualified last year, but the district received additional waivers and support tied to Hurricane Harvey to ensure students received three free meals all year. view article arw

This upcoming school year Wichita Falls ISD students will not only get two but three hot meals a day. This comes after the school district decided to expand their feeding program to ensure every kid has something to eat after school. "Kids have after-school activities," said Caroline Gellner, a mother of three. "Whether it's sports, tutoring, if they are involved in art programs, they are kept after school now more and more for different activities." view article arw

Humble ISD is transitioning to a completely digital process when it comes to applying for free and reduced-priced meals for the 2018-2019 school year. This service offers free or reduce-priced meals to students who qualify as per the National School Lunch Program. view article arw

Spring Independent School District will be able to serve free meals at 31 schools this year after an expansion of a program that makes the free meals possible. Through the Community Eligibility Provision, which last year operated at only six schools in the district, the 31 schools will serve free breakfast and lunch meals to students regardless of income. view article arw

Bryan school board members unanimously approved a meal charge policy for the 2018-2019 school year, limiting entrée choices for students who reach a set negative balance.  Those limits are set at two days of breakfast and two days of lunch, which equals negative $8 at the elementary level and negative $8.50 at the secondary level.  For students who qualify for reduced lunches, the meal charge limit is a negative $1.40. view article arw

The La Vega Independent School District announced Wednesday it would continue to offer free breakfast and lunch for all students, regardless of income, under a new federal program. La Vega ISD Director of Child Nutrition Dave Thiel said the district qualified for the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) for the 2018-2019 school year. Thiel said the district operated as a provision two school the past four years which is a USDA program that also offers free meals for every student. view article arw

Students at seven Brazosport ISD campuses will have the opportunity to enjoy free breakfast and lunch throughout the school year. The qualifying schools, which include Freeport and Velasco elementary schools, Lanier Middle School, Freeport Intermediate, Lighthouse Learning Center, Brazos Success Academy and Brazosport High School, will receive funding for free meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision program. “Families will greatly benefit from this program,” said Rachel Arthur, Brazosport ISD director of child nutrition, Monday at the board of trustees meeting. view article arw

As Katy Independent School District continues to grow and flourish, the Nutrition and Food Services Department is expanding its program to meet the needs of Katy students. “The school district’s enrollment is currently at just over 77,000 students. And I just learned on July 16 that we are expected to reach 80,000 students when classes start in August,” said Katy ISD Media Relations Manager Maria DiPetta. All nutrition guidelines are set on a national level through the United States Department of Agriculture and on a state level through the Texas Department of Agriculture, but districts have autonomy in how they choose to appropriate those guidelines into programs. view article arw

The Abilene Independent School District has a big chunk of cash sitting in its school lunch accounts, but how did that money get there and what do they do with those funds? Through an open records request, KTXS News learned that Abilene ISD ended the 2017-2018 academic year in May with $64,935 in its school lunch accounts. The director of the student nutrition department at Abilene ISD, Jay Towell, said that the money is the balance of what parents deposited into their kids' accounts. view article arw

Galveston ISD will provide free breakfast and lunch to all children in the district for the 2018-2019 school year. This expands a policy that normally only provides free and reduced-cost meals based on a family's income. The district change eliminates the need for free and reduced-price meal applications and collecting payment for basic student meals. view article arw

In a city with James Beard Award-nominated restaurants Mixtli and Cured, Culinary Institute of America Chef Justin Ward wants San Antonio school cafeterias to step up their culinary game. Reflecting on the cafeteria food of his past and the lunch lines of San Antonio Independent School District’s present – a typical week’s menu includes mini corndogs, cheeseburgers, burritos, turkey and cheese sandwiches, and fish nuggets with various sides – Ward thinks schools can do better and should reinvent their menus. view article arw

Rachel Harrington wants her children to have nutritious packed lunches to enjoy at school but she gets frustrated trying to create them. "Making lunches for my kids is one of my least favorite activities. I'd like to do it the night before, but that never happens," said the mother of two. "There are a lot of complaints." view article arw