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California Thursdays makes it on the menu for TUSD schools
school lunch pic
Using fresh, locally grown food is not a new concept to the Turlock Unified School District. - photo by Journal file photo

Turlock Unified School District is set to join 15 other school districts throughout the state with the implementation of California Thursdays, a program that encourages school districts and allied organizations to serve healthy school meals made with fresh California products.  

However, using locally grown food is not a new concept to the district.

“We have been serving California food to our California kids for a long time. We’ve been serving ‘California’ every day, not just on Thursdays,” said TUSD Child Nutrition Director Scott Soiseth. “This just gives us an opportunity to promote it to students, staff, and the community. What we are doing is putting a name tag on it.”

California Thursdays was founded with the underlying mission to offer both appealing and healthy school meals to students, resulting in greater health, higher levels of academic achievement, as well as protecting local economies and the environment.

Along with participating school districts, the program is in partnership with the Center of Ecoliteracy, a nonprofit that promotes ecological education in K-12 schools. The goal is for those involved in the program to foster lasting partnerships among farmers, suppliers, governmental officers, nonprofits, and other businesses.

A local farmer himself, Soiseth recognizes the importance of procuring local products.

“We are California and we really want to promote and support California farmers,” said Soiseth. “Using California foods is less expensive, it is great for the economy, and it is great for the farmer — not to mention the freshness and quality of the food.”

Soiseth invited the Turlock Unified Board  of Trustees and the superintendent on Tuesday to the district’s California Thursdays roll out lunch at Turlock High School. The child nutrition director assured that this is more than an average visit to a cafeteria, with vendors promoting the nutritional value of their products to attendees.

“My goal in child nutrition is to enhance student health, as well as the health of our community and our district,” concluded Soiseth.