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Focus on nutrition
School lunches become Real Fresh
nutrition pic2
Students at Turlock High wait in line as they grab a quick lunch along with some fresh new smoothies and parfaits now offered through the lunch program. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal

Turlock schools have been giving students more options, faster lines and healthier food during lunch as part of the district’s Real Fresh program. But students have mixed feelings about their nutritional meals.

“The food is good,” said Araseli Rodriguez, Turlock High freshman. “It’s not like you’re eating junk food. The food is healthier.”

A new inside food court with Fresh Mex food, new speed lines, less sodium-filled foods and parfaits and smoothies are being offered through the school lunch program this year, said Scott Soiseth, Turlock Unified School District director of child nutrition.

The new amenities are starting off at Turlock High and will be moved over to Pitman High later this school year, with the intention of moving the services to the secondary schools as well.

Even though fresh and nutritious food may be the healthier way to go, some students want the fattening greasy food back.

“They should give us more of a variety,” said Austin Reed, Turlock High senior. “We should be able to choose if we want to eat healthy or eat unhealthy. It is good they offer nutritious food, but they need to offer unhealthy food so we can choose.”

Some even referred to the food as being tasteless and over healthy.

“We prefer taste over nutrition,” said Grant Phillips, Turlock High senior.

“It is school food,” said Matt Mazedo, Turlock High senior. “It has to be over healthy but it is too over healthy.”

Despite the over healthiness in the pizza, chicken and sandwiches sold on campus, students are happy with the two new speed lines making getting through lunch an easier process.

“It is much faster,” said Brenda Gonzalez, Turlock High freshman. “There are stations everywhere. With more stations set up, it makes the wait time in line a lot less.”

One of the newest additions to the school lunch program is the Fresh Mex food court that will be up and running by Labor Day at Turlock High, Soiseth said.

It took about four weeks to remodel an inside building and they are just waiting for the equipment to come in, he said. It will be a self-serve type of service where students can make tacos, burritos, taco salads and nachos. It will be all Mexican food themed.

“It will be the freshest products that are less processed,” Soiseth said.

The Fresh Mex service will be heading to Pitman High this school year and potentially the junior high schools, he said.

The Child Nutrition department is also looking for an electric grill to add grilled items onto the school lunch menu, Soiseth said. A smoothie bar is also being looked at for the future.

Walnut Education Center is tackling nutrition education through the “Chefs Move to Schools” program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign to solve childhood obesity. A chef will come into classes at Walnut and teach students about nutrition, how to prepare their own food and how to make smart choices with what they eat. If the program is successful at Walnut, the district plans to expand it to other campuses.

Healthier food options, more variety and faster service are all ways Soiseth hopes to focus attention on good nutrition.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.