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Manteca High menu a big draw for students who want value for $1.75

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POSTED November 6, 2009 2:00 a.m.
Sometimes being old can be an advantage.

While Sierra High had a unique layout and East Union had a shiny new kitchen to serve their students, it was the unique way that Manteca High utilized what space they had to make the entire lunch process work.

The gorgeous deli lines inside of the cafeteria – with ‘Manteca’ etched into the artistic front that runs the length of the main lunch counter – are just the start in the unique way that the district’s oldest high school manages to cater to their students.

Roll-up windows with a brick façade act as one area where students can come up to get their favorite foods at lunch, and the back-door that used to be an entry point for the now-defunct “speed line” gives those who wish to chow down outside a place to grab their respective items and head out for a shady spot with friends.

Surely the cafeteria fills up quickly, but the quad area outside also draws a large crowd of students – some that are just hanging out and waiting for the bell to ring while others soak up the sun on a beautiful afternoon.

Just like the other two stops I’ve made previously, everything that I had known about the Manteca High cafeteria has since been completely overhauled – something that gives a fresh new look that would have been nice to have seen a decade ago when that cafeteria was ground zero for my summer school lunch breaks.

After spending all afternoon in the Dorothy Mulvihill Theater listening to lectures about United States History without air conditioning during the peak of the summer heat, the wide expanses of that quad and the cool interior of the cafeteria were a welcome sight.

And while there isn’t much room for expansion – with the freezer actually outside of the cafeteria and the warehouse storage area more than a hundred yards away from the kitchen prep area – Fennelly has done a great job in making the cafeteria a place that students actually want to visit.

The menu choices are healthy, and the variation in the menu that includes fresh new items you don’t expect to see only makes the draw even stronger for students who see the value in the $1.75 that they’re shelling out on a daily basis for lunch.

It might not be the prettiest at first glance, but the history is what helps give the cafeteria and the surrounding areas the quaint ambiance that you don’t find on a campus that is just like the next one that’s going to get built.

Well done, Manteca High. Not even space constraints prevent the lunch room staff from creating an environment that seems to be exactly what the students want to see.

Let me know when the chile verde is going to be ready – that sounds like it warrants a special visit all by itself.
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