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Manteca Unified, 41 other school districts serve California lunches
The California burrito bowl bar was popular lunch menu for Sierra High students at the inaugural California Thursdays food event on Thursday. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

The program is a collaborative effort between the Center for Ecoliteracy and 42 school districts in the Golden State including Manteca Unified. All together, the school districts serve more than 250 million meals a year.

It’s called California Thursdays and it’s aimed at providing healthy and freshly prepared student meals with all the ingredients grown in California. Manteca Unified welcomed California Thursdays on Thursday at Sierra High School as part of the week’s observance of Earth Day. The plan is to hold California Thursdays in Manteca Unified once a month henceforth.

Partners in the healthy- and fresh-food program are various farms up and down the state of California, including the Manteca Unified school farm which supplies some of the fresh fruits and vegetables served during lunch at the district’s more than two-dozen cafeterias. Fresh food that came from the school farm for this week’s California Thursday were cilantro and icicle radish.

Here are the other cities that participated and the fresh food that they supplied this week: San Francisco – corn; Lodi – apples; Modesto – yogurt and milk; Hughson – tomatoes; Livingston – chicken burrito; Atwater – pinto beans; Firebaugh – salsa; Fresno/Clovis – mixed berries and tangerines; Fowler – raisels; Kern County – kiwi; La Verne – almonds; Los Angeles – beef; Villa Park – tomato products; Carson – ride; Hollister – salsa; Watsonville – strawberries, carrot sticks, spinach, and tomatoes; Salinas – romaine lettuce.

The Center for Ecoliteracy is a nonprofit organization which aims to advance “ecological education in K-12 schools” while recognizing that “students need to experience and understand how nature sustains life and how to live accordingly.”

Its website includes recipes for school meals made of California-grown ingredients which have been tested and offered to different nutrition services. It also contains information for parents to help them improve their children’s school meals.

More information can be found on the center’s website at