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It’s not your father’s cafeteria

Manteca schools shuck junk food for nutrition

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It’s not your father’s cafeteria

Sierra High satellite kitchen operator Kathy Reasor and staffer Rebecca Cheung check a student's balance at a cashier station.


POSTED October 30, 2009 3:26 a.m.
Kathy Reasor has seen a fair share of things change in the last decade when it comes to serving lunch to the students that attend Sierra High.

The introduction of California Senate Bill 12 – which reshaped the way that all meals are served throughout the state in regards to overall nutritional value – virtually eliminated a large portion of what was once standard fare on the campus cruisers.

And where printed sheets once identified the student in the free and reduced lunch program by forcing workers to check off their names, all Manteca Unified students are now issued an ID number that now maintains the anonymity of all students and allows parents to add money to a student’s account on-line through the district’s eFunds program.

Even with the school’s homecoming activities taking place all this week, clubs that were selling food for fundraisers on campus had to submit forms outlining the nutritional content of everything that they’re selling.

“There have been lots of changes, but we have a director that knew that they were coming and we kind of phased them out over time,” Reasor said. “At first it was kind of difficult for the students who were so used to having soda and snacks, but now it’s pretty much standard for the students that have come in over the last two years.”

With the addition of breakfast to the high school campuses the preparation for the day starts shortly after 6 a.m. and continues throughout the morning. Staffers will cut up the nearly 40 pizzas that are served, adding chicken to the salads that are offered, and sealing up the spicy chicken wraps to give students a variety of options to choose from.

Students can pick one of three main lunch serving sections on campus – with two in the cafeteria and one in the middle of campus – that helps space out where everybody enjoys their lunch.

Each site gets a chance to create its own custom items that are offered either on a weekly basis or on a rotating schedule. Last week Sierra students enjoyed a popular Philly cheese steak sandwich while this week the Thursday special was a hot pastrami sandwich.

One of the most popular meals – turkey and gravy – is coming less than a month from now.

But while the changes to the menu and the offerings may drastically impact the nutritional content, the lines at the individual stations haven’t dropped off.

“The students seem to enjoy the options and have taken to a lot of them,” Reasor said. “Some things stay the same though – pizza is one of our most popular items, and that probably isn’t going to change.”

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