On California Thursdays at Hillcrest High School, lunches made with fresh vegetables sell out first.
California Thursdays started Oct. 23, and is already a hit at schools such as Hillcrest. The center worked with school food service directors, farmers and produce distributors to develop recipes that students enjoy and can be made from scratch with fresh ingredients grown in-state.
They’re an alternative to frozen, processed, prepackaged meals shipped from out of state and reheated for schools, according to the center, a nonprofit dedicated to education for sustainable living and based in Berkley. Sometimes produce from California is shipped to Chicago and other distant locations for processing before it comes back to schools, the center said.
The California Thursdays entree features broccoli buds andcelery slices from Salinas, sliced red peppers from the Coachella Valley, sliced onions and matchstick carrots, rice grown in California and chicken. Food service workers put the vegetables on baking pans with a little water and into the oven. The cooked vegetables are then placed on top of the chicken and rice.
Although the full entree of only California-grown food is a weekly feature, Alvord Child Nutrition Services Director Eric Holliday said his department works with Sunrise Produce to include as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible to serve students every day.
The fruit also has fewer preservatives and the apples aren’t waxed like the ones in supermarkets, said Lisa Marquez, vice president of sales for Sunrise, which works with farmers and 75 to 80 school districts in Southern California.
Holliday said schools try to educate students about food and teach them where it comes from. Those education efforts encourage students to eat more fresh foods that may be unfamiliar initially.
Located in beautiful Southern California, Riverside has weather that is conducive to the production of year-round produce and excellent recreational opportunities. Riverside is a location of choice for those that desire a healthy lifestyle.
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