Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! —The Mgmt.
I'm not a mom, and it's been a while since I had my last school lunch, but I did a little research among my friends who are moms on what they serve nowadays at school.
These days they serve them lots of "comida criolla," or local fare such as rice and beans, lasagnas, pepper steak, and even "pastelones," which are Puerto Rican casseroles made sometimes from sweet fried plantains or mashed potatoes.
They also offer lighter fare, such as sandwiches, wraps, or even hot dogs, if that's considered light. There are some salads, but if the kids say they will not eat them, they will not give salad to them—as if kids really know what's best for them!
When I went to school, there was not a cafeteria where you stood in line with a tray to be served. It was just a kiosk where you would buy your "merienda." What was popular then: empanadillas de pizza (a fried turnover filled with tomato sauce and cheese), a criollo sandwich (made with criollo bread filled with ham and American cheese), a taco (a fried turnover filled with ground picadillo meat), and the ever-popular alcapurrias (a typical Puerto Rican fritter made with mashed green banana with yautía stuffed with ground meat).
Really healthy stuff.... Now you wonder why we have an obesity issue in America, right?