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100% California grown meals
Sierra High launches California Thursday lunch
Pam Ryan, Nutrition Services Assistant at Sierra High, shows the fresh veggie salad served at the launch of California Thursdays food program on Thursday. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Benjamin Alejandre pronounced the chicken burrito he was eating for lunch “pretty good.”

He liked it enough “I wouldn’t mind buying it if it were sold at a restaurant,” the Sierra High School freshman said. “I haven’t really tasted anything like it before.”

Alejandre was commenting on one of the four meals offered during the inaugural offering of California Thursdays at the school on Thursday. California burrito bowl, California veggie salad, California fruit yogurt, along with the California chicken burrito were all designed to launch California Thursdays, a statewide collaborative program by the Center for Ecoliteracy and participating school districts aimed at serving healthy and fresh school meals using food grown only in California.

“California Food for California Kids” read the message emblazoned on the back of the Sierra High Nutrition Services staff as they served the meals on wheels in the courtyard where most of the students ate their food al fresco.

The lunch hour culinary event Thursday at Sierra High was similar to the one held on the south lawn of the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday with several state assembly members and other local dignitaries on hand to experience firsthand California Thursdays. Along with the sample meals, the kick-off cerebration featured fresh California produce.

Other Timberwolves students gave thumbs up reactions to the healthy California Thursdays meals served. Freshman Alicia Balbuena said of the chicken burrito, “It tastes good. Not too spicy, not too hot. It didn’t burn my tongue, and it tastes fresh.”

Sophomore Alexa Bernal ordered the California veggie salad, a meal that she is used to eating because “my mom makes a lot of healthy food” at home, she explained.

The common thread among the four meal choices was the fact some, if not most, of the ingredients incorporated in the meals are all California grown. In fact, the romaine lettuce in the veggie salad came from the Manteca Unified School Farm.

“We live in California, so every item on the menu came from California,” Nutrition Education Supervisor Stephanie Huff said, elaborating on what the California Thursdays program is all about.

The current plan is to have California Thursdays once a month in Manteca Unified, she said.