Madera Kitchen Update

Update from Madera Kitchen Committee

Peres Elementary, our sister pilot school has officially gone fully organic for breakfast and lunch. This is so exciting!

In the meantime, the committee reached out to experts like Chef Ann Cooper, who started the stand-out nutritional program in 2005 at Berkeley USD and still going strong with Chef Bonnie Christensen.

We had the opportunity to meet with Chef Bonnie and tour her kitchen on Friday at King Junior High which is also the central kitchen, with Principal Makela, WCCUSD Nutrition Services Director Barbara Jellison and Assistant Superintendent Lisa LeBlanc.

We learned how they achieve a healthy menu and what the challenges are. For instance, most of their food is made in the kitchen daily and majority whole fruits are organic but many vegetables may not be, vast majority of food is locally sourced yet they use plasticware with compostable plates. We learned although they have been forced to prioritize food over sustainability, they are still able to achieve great improvements in both nutrition and sustainability within budget restraints and nutrition requirements. Both Chef Ann and Chef Bonnie encouraged us to look at this effort as an evolution. There is going to be impactful changes that can be made right away and others may have to wait.

Labor costs and filling current vacancies in the nutrition department continue to be at the center of our discussions with the school district. We had the opportunity to share the good news that 300 of our families signed pledges to raise the lunch price to $3.50 in order to chip in for the extra labor needed for our school.  The department is also challenged by vacancies, so if you know anyone willing to work in the madera kitchen or central kitchen part-time for roughly $15/hr please let Principal Makela or us know!

We are watching and learning from Peres, reaching out to experts for advice and gathering information working with the school district to do the analysis to launch successfully and as soon as we can. We are looking to have a roadmap with a timeline aiming for a start January 1.

Thank you for all the support, interest and participation to make this major change happen! Any questions please contact Sonia Bustamante, soniabustamante@yahoo.com

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