The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees received an update Tuesday regarding the new Child Nutrition Education Center, which staff hopes will be ready in time to open its doors before the next school year.
“I really appreciate the work that’s being done and I’m really looking forward to this,” said TUSD Board President Frank Lima. “Our focus always has to be on our students in our district -- how best to serve them and how to deliver a cost efficient product to the extent that we can keep the cost of meals down for our students.”
The project is expected to cost anywhere from $3.2 million to $3.5 million for equipment and construction, according to Child Nutrition Director Scott Soiseth. The funds are slated to come from the existing food services budget.
After more than a year’s worth of searching, the TUSD Board of Trustees authorized a Purchase and Sale Agreement in December between the District and New Life Christian Center for property located at 1901 Auto Mall Drive, which was a former Subaru dealership.
Upon completion, the new facility is expected to include two conference rooms that combined can accommodate 150 people. The larger room, which will be made from the dealership’s existing carport, will be made “self-sufficient” with a staging area for caterers and restroom facilities.
“This room can be used after-hours, evenings, weekends without people having to wander through the food operations going on in the back,” said architect Gary Mallory with FF&J Architects.
Soiseth said the vision for the smaller conference room, which can hold up to 50 people, is for staff training and professional growth.
“In the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, professional growth is a big key,” said Soiseth. “When we meet now, we meet in a classroom or in a cafeteria. We can never have a large enough staff meeting in a comfortable setting.”
Storage-wise, the renovated facility will hold a walk-in freezer that will encompass the entire west side of the building, as well as dry storage area, staging area and cooler. There will also be a trash compactor on the far west side of the property.
“The coolers and freezers will be all new equipment, but a lot of the production and packaging equipment we will be bringing over from Dutcher,” said Soiseth. “The existing walk in freezer at Dutcher is going to be moved to the student farm.”
The food service component will take up the central area of the facility with more storage space, a production and dishwashing area, cooler, school site production kitchen and demonstration kitchen.
“We spent a lot of time with Scott and his staff going over this,” said Mallory. “We talked about how the equipment would lay out and how things would function. We want to make sure the flow of production is smooth.”
Mallory said Child Nutrition staff is slated to return before the Board during their Oct. 4 meeting to ask for authority to call bids for the project. If all goes according to plan, the project is proposed to begin at the end of November, with a completion date in May of next year.
“This gives Scott time to move his staff over there, to move the equipment out of Dutcher School over there and get everything set up so that they are ready when school starts back up in August,” said Mallory.