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School district searches for new central kitchen location

When Turlock Unified School District officially made the decision in March to consider moving dual immersion sixth grades to Dutcher Middle School as part of Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy’s expansion, it became clear that the middle school needed to make some room.

One way the District is planning to do this is by finding a new location to house the District Central Kitchen Facility, which is currently located on the middle school’s campus.  

“We’ve talked about the need to get our central kitchen off the Dutcher campus for quite some time into an area that doesn’t clog up neighborhoods,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor, “and this also goes hand in hand with our plans for Dutcher down the road to free up some space for more kids.”

Not only is the District acknowledging the need to move the facility, but so is Child Nutrition Director Scott Soiseth.

“We’ve probably been looking at moving off the Dutcher campus for the past four or five years,” said Soiseth. “We just heightened our decision to move forward and off school campus, especially if Dutcher is going to turn into a true middle school by 2016-2017.”

To find a new location, the District has enlisted the help of FF&J Architects, Inc., which will conduct feasibility studies of two different properties, the current Turf Club within the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds and a property just north of the current District Transportation Facility, in order to determine their viability.

The TUSD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the agreement between the District and FF&J Architects, Inc. during their meeting on Tuesday. The total cost of this service for both sites is not expected to exceed $30,000.

 “It is extremely important to bring in the services of an architect to review locations and determine their ability to support the District Central Kitchen Facility,” said Trainor. “This goes in preparation of written reports, schematic drawings, probable costs and the development of a budget.”

According to Gary Mallory, architect with FF&J Architects, Inc., the first step of the process will be to sit down with Child Nutrition Office staff to figure out what their needs are, including what kind of equipment will the new location need to house, how much storage is required, how much freezer space is necessary, and how many vehicles are going to be driving to and from the new facility, among others.

“We will find out more about what goes into running a central kitchen facility,” said Mallory. “We need to make sure the new facility can handle all of the expansion requirements so that the District does not have to look for another site in the not-too-distant future.”

While FF&J Architects begins work to determine the potential of the two aforementioned locations, Soiseth noted that in order to serve the District better, the new location will have to be one that can facilitate growth, allow for more fresh cooking, cold storage for fruits and vegetables, and be easier for trucks to get in an out.

“We are just excited that it is moving forward, it’s been a long term of goal of ours,” said Soiseth.