The Alisal Café

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In an ideal situation the school would base their lunch menu on what the students prefer. Unfortunately Alisal along with every other school in the district have to follow guidelines which limits their lunch options. Currently a typical lunch consists of a milk carton, a fruit, and the main dish of the day. With such limited items you would think what making the lunch menu would be easy but it’s actually a lot more complex.

The state guidelines say lunches have to be the same for all schools, they have to have the same items. Everything seems to be proportioned by the government. “There’s guidelines that we have to follow. It has to do a lot with the president and the obamas as well because it’s a part of their ‘Let’s Move’ campaign and healthy lunch laws,” said Emiliano Ferrel, who is a part of the cafeteria staff. Ferrel also stated, “We’re required to make students take certain items in the morning because it has to be taken to be able to get through the line on our accounts. That’s why the share table is there to leave it if you don’t like it. Lunch is easier because there’s more options available.”

Choosing the right menu every month takes a lot of consideration and a group of people to decide what’s best for our school district. “As managers we meet once a month. All 8 of us (schools) from all the (4) junior highs and (4) high schools we all meet and sit down and we all agree upon what we would have as our main item. So like the first of september we all agreed upon having mini corn dogs and tater tots as our main dish,” said Emiliano Ferrel.

Even though theres district agreement there is also flexibility. All schools from our school district for the most part should also have the similar set menu, “Let’s say for instance if you went to Alvarez they should have mini corn dogs as well.” However there are a lot of factors that go into what works best in certain schools, “What might work in terms of tater tots more here at Alisal might be different at Salinas High or Alvarez, etc. Some kids don’t like tater tots and some kids love tater tots it just all depends. But like our main item would be the mini corn dogs.”

Some of the lunch items are heated and served and according to Ferrel a lot of it has to do with not having enough staffing. “Because you can’t really cook something fresh without having a lot of people it’s just hard to do it’s a lot of work. Like our chicken patties they come frozen and we do prepare them and we do watch how we prepare them in terms of quality. I mean we’re not going to serve a burnt patty. There’s just no way.”

“My thinking and I tell the (lunch) ladies if your son or daughter went to school here would you serve them that food. Even all the way down to the lettuce. If it’s brown were not going to serve it, we might do without it but well look for something else, it’s all based on quality. I always ask my kids ‘how was your food at school?’ and they’ll say stuff like ‘it was burnt, it was this, it was that’ and a lot of students are afraid to speak up.”

Apart from the usual lunch items the school also provides the salad bar to all students. “We do offer a salad bar and most of those vegetables are seasonal. The salad bar was donated to us by a local business I believe it was taylor farms and it was just to get fresh foods into schools and get it available and it is even if the student doesn’t get free or reduced price lunch.”

I’m sure there are a lot of students who aren’t meticulous and were unaware that the food menu gets posted, but Emiliano Ferrel assures us it’s up there, “Our menus are available, I don’t think their internet based or if it gets printed out. We do post the menu, I just don’t think people pay attention to it or if gets announced in the morning announcements and things like that. It’s just a lot of factors into what you don’t know is going on in the school community.”

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