Hungry Elementary Students Get Their Pick
Santa Clarita’s youth is eating better than us. It’s true.
In following strict governmental dietary standards and utilizing its National School Lunch Program, the Santa Clarita Valley School Food Services Agency provides a daily menu of healthy and tasty lunches to each of our local elementary schools.
On October 20, the agency opened the doors of the Central Kitchen in the Valencia Industrial Center to principals, PTA members, teachers, parents and students to sample current and future menu options.
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The agency provides food services to each of the four elementary school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley: Newhall, Saugus, Sulphur Springs and Castaic. It also services Castaic Middle School.
Although each of the 37 schools has its own kitchen on site, all of the food is prepared at the large, full-service Central Kitchen.
With 10 vendors on hand showcasing nearly 100 food items from more than 40 manufacturers, the bountiful selection seen on Wednesday could only inspire envy.
“Isn’t it different from when you were a school?” said Jane Crawford, the agency’s director. “It’s certainly different than why I was in school.”
During lunchtime, students are given a choice of five entrees, and can pick and choose from a full salad bar with fruits, vegetables and nuts. They even get a dessert item.
Some of the items offered, include egg and sausage burritos, barbeque chicken quesadillas, spicy stir fry chicken, vegetable egg rolls, flavored 1 percent fat milk and Italian ices.
They get to pick and choose from items such as these every day. And all for $2.75.
The agency, which has been around for nearly 20 years, has really progressed Chief Administrative Officer Pavel Matustik, said Crawford.
“Pavel Matustik was the one who wanted five entrees,” she said. “We spent a lot of time, and he spent a lot of time, really maneuvering so that he could really get the highest quality products here.”
And although the entrees may sound a bit decadent, they certainly aren’t unhealthy.
The agency must follow the Recommended Dietary Allowances, which sets a tight protocol for calories, protein, iron, calcium and total and saturated fat content.
Crawford said the agency – which is as much a part of the districts as the school bus system – regularly meets with school staff and parents to maintain a proper dietary regimen for the students.
“It’s really encouraging that we’ve been asked to be part of the Wellness Committees for the districts” she said. “We meet with different nurses, teachers and parents – we all sit down together”
Through open discussion and the ability of school administrators and parents to actually sample the items, Crawford says her agency is able to provide a suitable, yet delicious menu.
“Everyone comes together wanting the very best for the kids.”