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USDA recognizes Manteca Unified food service

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USDA recognizes Manteca Unified food service

Manteca Unified Nutrition Services Director Patty Page, center, receives recognition plaque from USDA acting regional administrator Jesus Mendoza, Jr. and Kim Frinzell from the California Departmen...

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED March 22, 2014 12:06 a.m.

The words of Keelan Saunders, a seventh grader at George Komure Elementary School in Weston Ranch, explained in the simplest way possible why Manteca Unified School was being recognized by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

“I think it’s pretty cool that even the Food Services people want to help me learn,” the 13-year-old student said Tuesday during the ceremony when 30 Healthier US School Challenge awards were presented to Manteca Unified School principals and Nutrition Services staff.

Nutrition Services Director Patty Page explained that Keelan’s story started as a class project which prompted him to ask questions that eventually led to an appreciation of the nutritious lunch meals served to all students in the school district.

“I have always wondered how my school lunch is made, and why I don’t get to choose what I eat. So I wanted to find out,” Keelan explained to the gathering that included special guests Jesus Mendoza, Jr. who is the acting regional administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, and California Department of Education Nutrition Education Assistant Kim Frinzell.

He drew laughter from the audience when he continued his story and said, “I started by looking on the MUSD website to see if I could find someone to help me, and there I found a sweet lady named Patty Page.”

Keelan said he learned about the rules governing the preparation of the meals, how much hard work the chefs put into the preparation of the food, and why students are not able “to pick our own lunches.” It’s for health reasons, was the answer he was given to that last question.

Mendoza commended the district awardees for their resourcefulness in preparing the students’ meals and for preparing “tasty, nutritious” meals.

“You, guys, do a remarkable job. It takes a community to achieve that goal,” he said.

The elementary and high school principals who received silver and bronze awards earned the recognition for a number of reasons ranging from establishing a running club at their school, participating in Harvest of the Month, partnering with local businesses to recognize students who demonstrate good character, and sponsoring “healthy heroes” posters.

The awards ceremony, which took place in front of the district office, was held in conjunction with the celebration of National Nutrition Month in March which was deemed the “perfect time to highlight the essential role nutrition plays in sustaining healthier lives.”

The event also presented another opportunity for the be.tech Culinary Arts students to show off their culinary skills, and for the School Farm to advertise its role in the district’s Nutrition Services program. Culinary Arts students prepared all the sampling of healthy and nutritious food that guests enjoyed before and after the program. Samples of fresh fruits and vegetables from the School Farm were likewise offered to all guests. A good portion of the fresh fruits and vegetables served to school district students’ meals come from the MUSD’s very own School Farm.

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